The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Federal financial aid on the brink of major cuts

Federal student aid programs could be cut or altered, potentially affecting more than half of Marquette’s students, if Congress does not reduce the federal deficit before Thanksgiving.

If they do not make that deadline, Congress will be forced to cut a $600 billion block of funding from discretionary spending, which includes funding for education. According to Marquette’s Office of Student Financial Aid, 4,834 students received some form of federal financial assistance for the 2010-2011 school year.

The potential cuts would affect all federal student aid programs, including Pell Grants and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which provide funding to students in individually tailored packages. The federal work study program, which provides aid that students can earn through part-time employment, would also be affected.

The threat of a decrease in federal aid is a national problem that would affect 14 million families who receive the assistance.

Students received an email from the Office of Student Financial Aid last week asking them to sign a petition written by the Student Aid Alliance, who are imploring Congress to spare federal financial aid programs from congressional budget cuts. The Alliance, a group representing 62 higher education associations, started the petition two weeks ago as part of a campaign to lobby against the possibility that financial aid would be reduced.

More than 51,000 people have signed the petition, including Marquette students.

Philip Pfeilsticker, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he signed the petition because without financial aid, he and many students like him would not be able to pursue higher education.

“If financial aid were cut, I personally couldn’t afford to continue my education at Marquette,” he said. “I would need to transfer to a university that is cheaper and depending on how my credits were to transfer, it could take more than a year to finish my degree.”

Jessica Koziel, a junior in the College of Business Administration, signed the petition from Santiago, Chile, where she is studying abroad this semester.

“Since I am studying abroad, I probably would not have even known that they are considering cutting federal student aid,” she said in an email.

Koziel’s federal student aid allows her to attend Marquette and to study abroad. She also said her family would have to reconsider her ability to attend the university if the aid was cut.

Recent budget deals have already cut $30 billion from the federal student aid programs. States across the country are cutting higher education from their own budgets as well.

Rana Altenburg, vice president for public affairs, said Marquette sent out the petition because it is important for Congress to hear directly from the people who the cuts would affect.

“The current threat is so great that it was imperative to encourage a greater awareness to students,” she said.

Altenburg also said she is worried about the effect these cuts would have on students and their families — especially those who are economically disadvantaged.

“If the federal government is going to cut financial aid it will dramatically affect the ability to make college affordable,” she said.

Although Marquette has not decided how they would react to such cuts, Altenburg said the university’s focus is currently on prevention.

“Hopefully the higher education community will prevail and cuts will not be made,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *