Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023 |
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If you don’t think the Pell Grant matters one iota on Kauai, think again. We support the Pell Grant Protection Act legislation that preserves and expands access to Pell Grants, and here’s why:
In 2012-2013, there were 634 Pell Grant recipients at Kauai Community College.
“These are students for whom a college education and the opportunities that education provides simply would have been out of reach without Pell Grants,” said Helen Cox, chancellor of Kauai Community College. “The Pell Grant Protection Act not only protects the possibility of the American Dream for these students, it also paves the way for thriving economies.”
Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Pell Grant Protection Act legislation. What this bill does is help low-income students by converting Pell Grants into an automatic spending program with a cost-of-living adjustment similar to the formula used by Social Security.
The bill also restores Year-Round Pell Grants, which will help students get their degrees faster, with no gap in eligibility. About 1 million students – including 1,620 in Hawaii – used Year-Round Pell Grants each year before Congress eliminated them in 2011.
At KCC, in 2010-2011, there were three Year-Round Pell recipients.
“In today’s competitive economy, college costs are becoming more and more prohibitive for many students,” Hirono said. “I’ve met promising students in Hawaii who want to go to college so they can improve their futures and help their families, yet they know college is just too expensive.”
Pell Grants, Hirono says, have changed the lives of countless low-income students, and the Pell Grant Protection Act will build on critical resources for future students by enabling them to continue taking classes in the summer or winter and ensuring that Pell Grants keep up with increases in cost of living. It is indeed one of the most helpful and successful financial assistance programs that have made college affordable for many students.
The Pell Grant Protection Act would assist a significant amount of UH Manoa students in funding their higher education in Hawaii.
Richard Mizusawa, president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii, said that during the 2012-13 academic year, 4,813 UH Manoa students, 25 percent of the student population on campus, used Pell Grants that went toward a large portion of the cost of their education.
Many high school students, those on Kauai included, can be discouraged from attending college due to the cost. Pell Grants can make it possible. They keep the option of higher education open to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it. We encourage those with the desire to attend college to do all they can to make it happen. We know that’s easier said than done.
In the past few years, Congress enacted several restrictions and limitations on Pell Grant eligibility that reduced access to post-secondary education, said Kimberly Jones, president of the Committee for Education Funding.
This legislation can change that — hopefully create a bright future for Kauai’s younger generations.
“Stabilizing and enhancing funding for the Pell Grant program is one of the most important actions Congress can take to support college affordability in Hawaii,” said David Lassner, interim president of the University of Hawaii System. “The University of Hawaii is working to accelerate college completion for students through more strategic use of summer sessions statewide. So enhancements to support greater Pell utilization over the summer will enable our most motivated and needy students on all islands to meet their educational goals more quickly and join the workforce sooner.”
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