Sen. Franken Continues Fight to Keep College Affordable
Introduces Measure to Prevent Funding Cuts for Students
Recently, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) continued his fight to keep college affordable for working families in Minnesota.
Sen. Franken and his colleagues introduced a resolution in the Senate to defend the Pell Grant program, which provides need-based college grants to working families. The resolution states that the program should not be cut in any deficit reduction package because cuts to the program would do more harm than good to the economy. Minnesotans have been hit particularly hard by the rising cost of college tuition and cannot afford cuts to Pell Grant funding. The average student graduating from a 4-year institution in Minnesota leaves school with $27,467 in debt - 6th highest in the nation.
"An educated workforce is key to our country's future economic prosperity," said Sen. Franken. "I urge my colleagues to reject any cuts to Pell Grant funding. Cuts would hurt Minnesota students' ability to go to college today and our economy tomorrow and in the long run."
This year, members of the House of Representatives attempted to slash funding for Pell Grants, passing a budget resolution that would have cut grant funding for over a million students by an average of $1,775. At the same time, the number of students receiving Pell Grants has increased by 26 percent in recent years, and the purchasing power of these grants has declined. Today, the maximum Pell grant covers 34 percent of the cost of four year public university tuition - down from 72 percent in 1976.
Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined Sen. Franken in introducing the legislation.