VALHALLA, N.Y. -- U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey outlined the devastating impact of cuts to federal financial aid for college students on Friday during a roundtable discussion at Westchester Community College.
Lowey, a Democrat from Harrison, said the budget crafted by Republicans in the House of Representatives majority neglects students in need and would increase the cost of a higher education for more than 20,000 students in Westchester and Rockland counties.
“Pell Grants provide nearly $80 million in relief for low-income students in Westchester and Rockland to help cover the cost of going to college. We should be investing more in our students, not less," Lowey said.
Lowey said that as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, "I will protect funding for education programs during upcoming spending negotiations so all Americans can access and afford a higher education.”
The House budget passed by Republican majority votes on Wednesday would cut Pell Grants, end higher education tax credits, make subsidized federal Stafford loans more costly and end public service loan forgiveness as well as income-based repayment.
"This would have a devastating impact on college students and their families, and make it more expensive to receive a higher education,'' Lowey said.
About 6,000 Westchester Community College students receive $22 million in Pell Grants annually. About 2,895 Pace University students receive Pell Grants worth $13 million.
Joining Lowey for Friday's roundtable discussion were Westchester Community College President Belinda S. Miles, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Donald Weigand and Financial Aid Director Anita Cook; Pace University’s Dean of Admissions Donna Grand Pre, Director of Financial Aid Daniel Robinson and Director of Government & Community Relations Eric Morrissey; WCC students Anna Matias, Carmen Guillen, Kingsley Bernard and Richard Anderson; and Pace student Sara Voorhees.
“Financial aid programs at the federal level greatly benefit our students here locally,” Miles said.
“The House and Senate recently proposed budget resolutions that unfairly target economically challenged students and devastate all college students across the Hudson Valley,” said Stephen J. Friedman, president of Pace University.
At Pace, Friedman said, one out of every three degree-seeking undergraduate students rely on Pell Grants. Countless others depend on federal aid programs to finance their college educations, he said.
"Any proposal that cuts support for financial aid would be a serious loss for our country,'' Friedman said.
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