Brown Voted to Gut Pell Grant Funding by 25%

Elitism. Or pulling up the ladder after you. Have to cut something to make sure that the rich and the oil companies keep their tax breaks. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Instead of character attacks of the Brown campaign, Elizabeth Warren released a great ad highlighting the scheduled rate increase of Stafford student loans. As noted in the original post, Warren also placed a petition to call on congress to not double the rate.

In Brown’s defense, alert commenter bradm noted the amount of money that is dedicated for Pell Grants when arguing against the Warren ad. While Scott Brown later decided to get on board with Elizabeth Warren on Stafford Loans (I wonder if he signed her petition). Scott Brown’s quote from the hard hitting Jon Keller piece about what kind of hamburgers Brown likes:

“Yeah, I’m for (the new bill). It’s something we’ve been working on for awhile,” said Sen. Brown.

Well it has been something that Brown has been working on for a while, March 2011, Scott Brown voted for Republican budget bill H. R. 1 which would have slashed Pell Grant funding by 5.7 Billion, that’s billion with a “B” folks, or nearly 25 percent of Pell Grant funding.

Candidate Scott Brown has a problem on his hands, he can’t pretend to champion helping students with secondary education while Senator Scott Brown votes to gut programs.


13 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Brown's biggest problem

    is that he’s really not very good at his job. His record is incoherent and he doesn’t know much. He’s running on who he is, not what he’s done.

    He can still win, but this is weakness.

  2. We had to destroy the village to save it

    It seems that Candidate Scott Brown is making the claim that the government has to gut the Pell Grant program in order to save secondary education.

    Does everybody understand that Pell Grants are different from Stafford Loans? I’m sorry, johnk, but bradm’s argument is NOT “alert”, it is instead simply a strawman and distraction. Here is what Ms. Warren says in the ad (emphasis mine):

    “Today, Washington lets big corporations like GE pay nothing — zero — in taxes while kids are left drowning in debt to get an education”.

    Ms. Warren is talking about student debt. Pell Grants are grants — they do not have to be repaid (emphasis mine):

    Quick information on Pell grants:

    - A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid.
    - The maximum Pell grant for the 2011-12 award year (July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012) is $5,550.
    - The amount depends on your financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

    Anybody who says today’s students are not drowning in debt is either ignorant of what is actually happening or outright lying. The comments about Pell Grants from bradm are a strawman. We should not let them distract us from the point Ms. Warren makes in the ad.

    Elizabeth Warren is working to reduce the enormous burden that higher education places on students and families of the 99%. Senator Scott Brown has worked diligently to increase that burden.

    • Should have been "post secondary education"

      I wish we could edit our comments.

      • bardm reference was tongue and cheek ...

        thought that would be evident in reading the comment thread.

        Grants and loans are not the same, hence the difference in names, you can throw in scholarships (that’s different too!)

        The point is that both the Pell Grant and the Stafford Loan are the major government programs to help with the financial strain on families. Brown has voted to drastically slash programs that now as a candidate she says he supports.

        As you note, you can throw paying down the debt out the window as Brown voted to extend the Bush tax cuts without any offsets. He didn’t seem to mind then.

  3. It should be noted

    that government subsidy of tuition obligations– through subsidized loan programs, or outright grants– is a direct cause of the never-ending surge in tuition.

    You could increase the Pell Grant program by a factor of ten, and two years later, tuition will have increased accordingly and someone would be saying that students just can’t pay the tuition without more government support.

    Tuition is rent-controlled apartments writ large. The cost of things that are subsidized gets inflated. Maybe the best way to help students is to break the cycle, de-inflating tuition costs.

    I certainly don’t see the Senator articulating this, but “let’s increase student aid” doesn’t seem so much like a solution as it does an exacerbation of the problem.

    • Some support please?

      This sounds more like a talking-point than anything else.

      When I review the factors that drive up the cost of college (not just tuition), I don’t generally see “increased government subsidies” listed. Instead, I see things like:

      - Payroll costs are climbing
      - Housing costs are climbing
      - Research expenses are climbing faster than grants

      Please help me understand how increasing Pell Grants causes a corresponding increase in college costs.

      • Talking point?!

        It is just simple economics. When you subsidize something, it gets more expensive. This is subject to dispute and controversy in the same manner that evolution is subject to dispute.

        What incentive does any college have to be cost-competitive? No one shops for colleges based on cost alone; they shop based on their ability to pay after borrowing whatever they can, and getting whatever grants they can get. As long as subsidized borrowing and grants increase, then the amount of tuition they can pay increases. And schools take what they can get, and build palatial dormitories and gyms and other extraneous stuff to compete for tuition payers who don’t really realize how steep the Sallie Mae bills are going to be.

        Which is why recent undergrads now can have six-figure student loans, and recent graduate/professional students can have six digit loan balances with a crooked first number.

        What other product or service has increased as quickly as college tuition?

    • A Factor

      I’ll concede that basic economics suggests that subsidizing tuition costs (through grants, especially) will result in higher access/demand. And higher demand = higher prices (all else being equal).

      However, it’s certainly a myth that government support for education costs is the only “direct cause” of tuition inflation. Other important factors include:

      Inflation: At least a third of the cause for tuition increases reflects the impact of ordinary regular inflation (costs of supplies, energy, and labor). Over time, that all adds up to more than people realize.

      Funding cuts: State budget cuts (and declines in giving to endowments) mean tuition must pay for a higher percentage of costs. This is a major factor in the most recent tuition hikes for public colleges especially.

      Demand II: Aside from government subsidies, changing cultural values and the very real impact of globalization on workforce needs are driving up demand for a college education. There are simply fewer good jobs for those without a college degree than there used to be. Higher demand means higher prices. Especially for the “brand name” colleges.

      Competition: This is commonly know as the USA today factor. Getting a higher ranking there, means having lower student/teacher ratios and making other costly investments. The pressure to do well in the highly publicized and over-used ranking is driving up costs. Good for students but bad for tuition costs.

      Security Costs: Post 9/11 and the Virginia Tech massacre, demand from students (and especially their parents) for increased security are high. There is a corresponding increase in insurance costs.

      Student Mix: As demand increases generally, the percentage of students with physical disabilities and mental health issues attending college is increasing. These students cost more.

  4. I think college costs at one point in time were too low

    but once they started ramping up they have turned into a bubble that was probably exacerbated by all the government subsidies.

    This is only my personal life, but I was not unique.

    In 1978 I was attending a state school and got a Teamster job in the summer paying $10/hr. One year in-state tutition was about $3300. If I had worked the whole summer I could have paid for the entire year. Note I only made $15,000 when I got out in the early 80′s so the value of the college education did not appear to be that great. I worked during school and paid tutition out of it, and owed nothing at the end.

    I came to MA in the early 80′s because my girlfriend at the time came to grad school at BC. Tuition was $7K/year. She was making $19K going in, and made $26K coming out, so those numbers made sense.

    You can see why educators thought “hey we can raise prices” and it was off to the races with double digit increases for many years.

    The binds that students and parents got into were these:

    1. There became no alternative to college if you wanted to make a good living, so you were willing to pay whatever (and borrow).

    2. Differences between colleges became apparent. I was part of the consulting industry at one point, and a top 10 MBA could get up to 50% more starting pay than a state school MBA to do the same job. The numbers from 1990 were about $60K vs $90K, so paying for prestige MBA (tuition was about $25K/year at the time) made sense

    We can argue about whether government money influenced this rise, along with reduced state support for state colleges, but I think these two societal factors played key roles as well and represent valid factors in an economic model.

    • Yes

      For reference, undergrad tution at BC was in the $13K/year range by the mid 80s, and was around $22K/year by the mid 90s.

      Law school tuition was pushing $30K/year by the late 90s.

      Undergrad tuition and law school tuition are now in the $60K/year range.

      Very few things have grown so consistently more expensive at such a rate for so long. The only thing I can think of is healthcare, which is (surprise) heavily subsidized itself, with similar mechanisms designed to hide costs from the consumer.

      • Professors in the 1970s didn't make 350K a year

        Professors salaries now get set like CEO salaries, i.e. John at BC makes 400K so I want 400K. This is just one of many reason why college costs have gone up.

        The overall problem is there is no cost pressure on upper end colleges.

  5. I should have added

    that because competition at the top set the rates for the whole higher education industry, it pulled all other colleges along.

    I also think a third factor was government and societal encourgagement that college is the only way to go, vs. trade school and other possible career paths. This increased demand and therefore prices.

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