The Chronicle’s View: ‘Rock the Votes’ when it comes to Pell Grants

It’s that time of year again. No, I don’t mean holiday shopping, I mean the announcement of Pell Grant reductions. That’s right, once again the federal government is planning on cutting funding for higher education assistance.

Since President Bush and a Republican congress were first elected four years ago, the grants have been on the chopping block. There’s no reason to believe the next four years will be any different.

More than 5 million students nationally and 5,000 U students benefit from the grants. They give up to $4,000 to the most needy students and smaller sums to thousands of others.

While the Utah State Board of Regents is predicting another tuition hike next year, Pell Grant reductions come as unhappy news indeed.

It is likely, however, that if the federal government decided to cut Social Security benefits to balance the budget, there would be a national uproar.

The reason these cuts happen every year to students is because students don’t react or do anything about it. That’s the price we pay for apathy. Thanks to all those students who registered to “Rock the Vote” and then stayed home election day, as a clear message was sent to our elected officials that our demographic is safe to screw over.

Because you didn’t think there was any point in voting, a handful of U students will now have to drop classes and get another job.

Did you think everyone was being hip and cute when pleading for students to “wake the sleeping giant?”

But it’s not too late. It will be harder and more time-consuming than punching a stupid chad once every four years, but there is something we can do.

Write your congressman. Tell him that cutting the Pell Grant year after year is unacceptable. Tell him to vote no on H.R. 4818 or at least to never do it again.

Tell your congressman to quite using tables from 1988 tax values to determine how much families should help with education.

No time to write a letter? It takes less time than scrounging up hundreds or thousands of dollars because your grant is gone.

If the last four years are any indication, this won’t be the last time fewer U students receive the grant. The time to act is now to prevent another cut next year.