Letter to the Editor

Congress sets Pell Grant limits

Thursday, February 3, 2005

To the editor:

A recent letter indicated Congress ordered Secretary of Education Spellings to decrease Pell Grant allocations. This claim is false on a number of levels. First, Congress determines the maximum amount of Pell Grants but has not reduced Pell Grant amounts or changed any rules unilaterally. The president has requested increases in Pell Grants from Congress since his first term. No progress has been made in increasing the maximum award, but cuts in Pell Grants have not been made. The most recent statement by President Bush regarding Pell Grants came in a speech in late January when he proposed that the maximum amount of Pell Grants be increased over the next 5 years (The Chronicle of Higher Education online, Jan. 28, 2005).

I believe what the author of the previous letter was referring to was an action by the Department of Education earlier in January, under then-secretary Rod Paige. This action was an update to the amount that families of Pell Grant recipients can deduct from state and local taxes. This action is required under the Higher Education Act and is not mandated by Congress or President Bush (The Chronicle of Higher Education online, Jan. 7, 2005). The aforementioned have nothing to do with tax cuts, and the author can rest assured that 28 percent of $100,000 is still more than 15 percent of $25,000, so the rich are still paying more taxes than the lower and middle classes.

Dr. JOE PUJOL, Chair, Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau