CHICAGO – In response to the proposed changes that would slash college aid, Gov. Rod Blagojevich sent a letter today to U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige urging him to stop attempts to make a college education more expensive by altering the way the federal government funds the Pell Grant program, which greatly impacts Illinois students and their families.
“The investments that give our young people the opportunity to earn a college degree pay tremendous economic dividends not only for the students but also for our entire society. It would be shortsighted and cost ineffective to cut back on this investment. I hope that by working together we can find a solution that does not require slashing these important federal education dollars,” Gov. Blagojevich wrote.
Gov. Blagojevich also highlighted that more than 52,000 of the Illinois students who are eligible to receive Pell Grants would lose either all or a portion of their grants as a result of the new federal changes, based on initial estimates. This means $7 million in lost Pell Grants for Illinois students.
“Illinois has one of the largest need-based financial aid programs in the nation, the Monetary Award Program (MAP), which serves families with average incomes of $29,000. The new federal changes will put further stress on our statewide program, which helps fill the ever-increasing gap between college costs and federal resources,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
Pell Grants and the state-supported MAP funds represented more than 50 percent of the total scholarship and grant funds for Illinois undergraduates in fiscal year 2002-2003.
Spending bills that were approved by both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives on Saturday would allow these unfortunate changes to move forward.