Letter: Pell Grant cuts not warranted
August 26, 2011/Detroit News
by Greg Handel, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce
The Detroit News editorial calling for cuts in federal Pell Grants that help low-income students earn college degrees was wrong on several counts ("Feds should put brakes on Pell Grants," Aug. 5).
Fortunately, funding for this program was preserved in the spending agreement reached by Congress and the president. It is now essential that the Pell Grant program also be spared draconian cuts in the second round of the deficit reduction process.
The News cited the growth in Pell Grant funding as justification for its reduction. In reality, use of the Pell Grant has increased in recent years because more students and unemployed workers are going back to school to get the training they need for jobs that actually exist in our economy.
In other words, those students are doing precisely what we as a society have urged them to do.
To rebuild our economy, nationally and here in Michigan, we need a work force with higher levels of education and training. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, 62 percent of jobs in Michigan will require post-secondary training beyond high school by the year 2018.
Workers with college degrees are almost three times more likely to avoid unemployment than their counterparts with only high school degrees. And when both groups are working, those with college degrees will earn 84 percent more over a lifetime than workers who have only a high school diploma. If we want a society with low levels of unemployment and high wages and productivity, we need to invest today in those who have the will, but not the means, to earn college degrees.
Throughout the debate over federal spending, we have been reminded that it is wrong to shift our debt burden on to future generations. Surely the answer to that problem is not to deny future generations the ability to earn college degrees and good incomes without incurring unsustainable levels of personal debt.
Pell Grants are working and those who use them to attend college will be working, too, if we are willing to make this critical investment in our nation's future.
Greg Handel, Michigan College Access Network chairman, Detroit
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110826/OPINION01/108260334/Letter--Pell-Grant-cuts-not-warranted#ixzz1W9nrtRTS