Student Loans: On Dec. 21, 2005, the Senate passed $12.7 billion in cuts to education programs — “the largest cut in student college loan programs in history.” Vice President Cheney cast the deciding vote in favor of the cuts. The bill also fixed the interest rate on student loans at 6.8 percent, “even if commercial rates are lower.” Despite Bush’s claims, students will be left off the program.
Pell Grants: Pell Grants have been frozen or cut since 2002; they are now stuck at a maximum of $4,050. In his 2000 election campaign, President Bush promised to increase the maximum Pell Grant amount to $5,100. “From 2004 to 2005, 24,000 students lost their Pell grants, according to a report pre-pared by the Congressional Research Service. This was the first drop in the number of students receiving the grants in several years; the number had been growing steadily since 1999.”
Recently a college student asked some pointed questions of the president. He is obviously not used to answering the type of question which deals with facts. Maybe the Washington press corps needs to take a lesson from this 19 year old...
Q: My name is Tiffany Cooper. I’m a sophomore here at Kansas State and I was just wanting to get your comments about education. Recently 12.7 billion dollars was cut from education. I was just wondering how is that supposed to help our futures?
Bush: Education budget was cut — say it again. What was cut?
Q: 12.7 billion dollars was cut from education. I’m wanting to know how is that supposed to help our futures?
Bush: At the federal level?
Bush: I don’t think we’ve actually — for higher education? Student loans?
Q: Yes, student loans.
Bush: Actually, I think what we did was reform the student loan program. We are not cutting money out of it. In other words, people aren’t going to be cut off the program. We’re just making sure it works better as part of the reconciliation package I think she’s talking about? Yeah — It is a form of the program to make sure it functions better. In other words, we’re not taking people off student loans. We’re saving money in the student loan program because it’s inefficient. So I think the thing to look at is whether or not there will be fewer people getting student loans. I don’t think so.
Secondly, on Pell Grants, we are actually expanding the number of Pell grants through our budget. Great question. The key on education is to make sure that we stay focused on how do we stay competitive into the 21st century, and I plan on doing some talking about math and science and engineering programs so that people who graduate out of college will have the skills necessary to compete in this competitive world. But I think i’m right on this. I will check when I get back to Washington, but thank you for your question.