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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Castor objects to proposed federal education cuts



TAMPA -- U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor said proposed cuts to federal Pell Grants, financial aid and other education programs would have a "devastating" impact on local students and families.

 “More than 100,000 students in the Tampa Bay area alone will see their Pell Grants slashed by the Republican budget and some will lose access to the grants altogether,” said Castor, D-Tampa, at a Wednesday news conference at Hillsborough Community College. “Broader and severe cuts to Head Start, public schools, Pell Grants and other aid to students also will cost jobs.”

She said the House Republican budget proposal for 2012 would cut aid for some 10 million students. It would cut the maximum Pell Grants award by more than $2,000 from the current $5,500, even as tuition continues to rise.

More from a Castor press release:

"Castor noted rising protests to the Republican budget for eliminating Medicare as we know it.   'As we work to cut the deficit and debt, Republicans refuse to eliminate American taxpayer subsidies to the Big Oil companies that are making record profits, close tax loopholes, or address the Swiss-cheese tax code that lets many off the hook.  The Republican approach to slash grants to students and privatize Medicare instead is a radical approach that undermines America's long- term economic interests.

“'There are distinct choices to be made, and slashing aid to students rather than eliminating spending through the tax code is wrong for our community,' Castor said. 'Pell Grants, TRIO, Upward Bound and Head Start are all critical to the success of our students. Tax breaks for big oil companies are not. The better investment is in our students, our schools and jobs.'

Ken Atwater, president of HCC, emphasized the importance of Pell Grants and other federal financial aid for HCC students.  'Almost half of our students benefit from these important programs,' he said. 'Any cuts to this funding affects our ability to provide access to higher education.'

  "Also joining Castor was Cydney Porter, an HCC student completing her paralegal studies. She receives a Pell Grant and participates in TRIO, benefiting from its mentoring and tutoring services.

“'Without the Pell Grants, I would not have been successful in my college endeavors,' Porter said. 'It is my hope the government will not cut these programs.'

"Aaron Harrell, a Middleton High senior, plans to attend University of Florida and study computer engineering. He has participated in Upward Bound and will receive a Pell Grant – and hopes TRIO/ Upward Bound is around for his younger sisters. He plans to be the first in his family to graduate from a four-year college, which is the aim of Upward Bound.

“'I just really hope it stays,' Aaron said. 'If it wasn’t for Upward Bound, I wouldn’t have been accepted to the University of Florida. The extra tutoring is exceptional and helped me stay focused and motivated. '”

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 2:20pm]


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