The new budget proposal by the U.S. Congress cuts certain financial aid grants for the 2011-12 school year. Congress has decided to cut the Pell Grant by 15 percent and completely eliminate the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, for undergraduates with a lot of financial need, which will affect many Whitworth students in the upcoming year.
“I am trying to look for outside articles to fund my education,” said Alexander Archuleta, freshman Pell Grant recipient.
There are 723 students who received Pell Grants from Whitworth University and 469 students who received the SEOG grant. These numbers are not independent, some of the students received both.
With the 15 percent decrease, the Pell Grant amount would be cut by $394,053 and the SEOG would be cut by $336,494.
“Anytime there are less funds available, it causes grief and heartache” Director of Financial Aid Wendy Olson said.
Whitworth had a town hall meeting on March 10 where leaders discussed how much Whitworth would be helping needy students with tuition.
“Whitworth is still in the process of deciding what to do about financial aid,” Olson said.
Recently, Whitworth announced its tuition increase as well, which will total $1900. However, the tuition increase and the grant reduction are two separate issues.
“The tuition increase will be a damper but a loss of grants will be an additional hit,” Olson said.
Whitworth leaders would like to help students who desperately need more money to continue their education here.
“We want to give financial aid out but that also means we are not spending money in other areas,” Olson said.
Students who were recipients of these grants were told by Whitworth to write to their Congress representative.
Students around the country wrote letters, made YouTube videos and even travelled to Washington D.C to try to urge Congress members to think twice about financial aid cuts.
“I was not able to write to my Congress member,” Archuleta said.
Along with the Federal cuts, there are also state cuts that will take away the money that is normally given to private institutions to sustain education.
“We have some endowed funds as well as departmental funds but not a lot,” Olson said.
Departments on campus have been having monetary competitions for students who wish to gain more money towards their tuition.
“Everything is tight and we are trying to manage money the best we can,” Olson said.
The decision for Whitworth comes down to how to balance the resources that they have.
Olson knows that the grant cuts will cause strife but does not know if it will affect Whitworth’s population.
“Even if I don’t get those grants next year, I will still be attending Whitworth,” Archuleta said.
Most of his financial aid package is comprised of academic scholarships but the grants do help pay for a part of his tuition, which is paid by both him and his parents.
“I’m not excited to see what these cuts are going to do to my financial aid package for next year,” Archuleta said.
Many students are worried about this same thing.
“We would love to help as much as possible,” Olson said.