New GOP financial aid budget could impact Georgetown students

The House Republicans have proposed a budget that would freeze levels of financial aid for college students, decreasing the amount available and making it harder to pay off loans in the future. This proposal is based on their belief that President Barack Obama’s current increase of student aid is too expensive and misdirected.

In this budget, the GOP plans to maintain the level of the Pell Grant, a type of student financial aid that does not have to be repaid, at 5,775 dollars for ten years. This means the grant would not change with inflation.

These changes will also reduce the amount of students eligible for the grant, since certain members of the GOP believe that currently the grant’s funds are going to students who are not very needy.

In an interview with Vox, Scott Fleming, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations at Georgetown expressed his concern with the proposal. “[It] offers no favors to students…and will cause students to fall further behind,” he said.

A budget proposal does not mean that these changes will be enacted as it must first pass through the legislature and be signed into policy. If it is enacted, however, it could have detrimental consequences for Georgetown students receiving financial aid, leaving students with 3,000 dollars or more in loans to pay after graduation.

Fleming explained that another issue with this budget is that it would eliminate public service loan forgiveness, which currently gets rid of loans for those working in the public sector. This would especially impact Georgetown students, considering the University advocates for work in public service and many students enter this field after graduation.

Pell Grants are an important source of aid funding for Georgetown students as more than 900 students receive this grant each year, which translates 4.2 million dollars as well as 11.5 million dollars in loans.

“I don’t fathom who thought it was a smart idea to do this right now,” Fleming said in the interview, particularly because many components of the student aid system have worked well.

If this budget turns into policy, Fleming stressed that financial services and Georgetown will do all it can to maintain its need-blind admissions and continue offering sufficient amounts of financial aid, even if that means changing how it creates and offers aid packages.

All things considered, Fleming does not see any advantages to this new GOP budget proposal. “Short and simple it isn’t good for students,” he said.

Photo: kid Truant via flickr

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