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Le Moyne College President Joins U.S. Representatives to Publicly Oppose Cuts to Federal Student Aid

Washington, D.C. -- On Thursday, April 7, Dr. Fred Pestello, president of Le Moyne College, one of the 28 Jesuit colleges in the United States, joined Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Ranking Member on the Labor, Education, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, and George Miller (CA-7), Ranking Member on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, to speak out against the proposed cuts to education funding by Republicans.

Pestello and the Members of Congress were joined by 20 college students to oppose the education cuts, in particular the reduction or elimination of Pell grants. Dr. Pestello (pictured left, with Rep. DeLauro) emphasized the importance of Pell Grants, and indicated that slashing these grants would make a college education less accessible for many students.

"The budget cuts the Pell grant program by at least $1,000 to $1,800, bringing the levels back to FY08 figures," said Dr. Pestello. "This will have a dramatic impact on our nation's students on whether they can continue their college education and finish their degrees. It also sends a very stark message to incoming freshmen that their Pell grant funds may not be there for them as they work their way through college. As a result, they may choose not to enter college or a university. This would be a tragedy."
The Pell grant program, which was founded in 1972 and currently serves over nine million college students, is in jeopardy of being reduced by $5.7 billion if the Republican budget cuts included in H.R. 1 are enacted. If the new budget proposed by Rep. Ryan (R-WI) moves forward, the grant amount per student will be cut by more than half.

“When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, we made a promise to strengthen the middle class and help working families. We came through on that promise, especially for college students by raising the Pell Grant to its highest level ever, and indexing it to increase with the cost of living. Cutting the Pell Grant by up to $3,950 is wrong for college students, wrong for working families and wrong for the future of this country,” said Congressman Miller. “The Republicans say their budget proposal is a path to prosperity -- without Pell, millions of college students will have no pathway at all.”

Dr. Pestello stated that over 40 percent of the students at Le Moyne College received Pell grants in academic year 2009-10 and that the College received $3.5 million for these students. Cutting these funds will have a dramatic impact on Le Moyne students' ability to pay for college.

"Our nation's students deserve the commitment by the federal government to maintain the Pell grant program," said Pestello. "This program has been a huge success. It has provided the means for students to pursue a wide range of educational opportunities, many of them in the STEM fields, and, in turn, continues to help make the United States globally competitive. It will be a travesty if these huge cuts prevail."

To see Dr. Pestello's full remarks, please click here.

posted on: 4/12/2011