STATEMENT OF VICE CHAIR FOR LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, LUCAS ALMONTE, ON CONGRESS’S PROPOSED CUTS TO FEDERAL PELL GRANTS PROGRAM
"Good morning. Thank you Congresswoman Velázquez for holding this important press conference and for inviting students to voice our concerns over this issue. My name is Lucas Almonte, I am currently a senior at New York City College of Technology, and serve as the Vice Chair for Legislative Affairs for the University Student Senate (USS); the official representative body of all students at the City University of New York (CUNY).
As a recipient of Pell grants, Congress’s proposal to cut $90 billion from the federal Pell Grant program is troubling and alarming. Millions of American college students heavily depend on Pell grants to cover the continuous and burdensome rising cost of tuition, textbooks, rent, transportation, supplies, and food.
At the root of the current $1.3 trillion dollar student loan bubble are the rising cost of tuition, and the exponential divestment from higher education. Without a Pell program that can keep pace with the needs of students, we will continue to shoulder the cost and be forced to take out students loans. Congress’s proposal will only exacerbate the student loan bubble, and make the cost of attending college out of reach of prospective college students—most who come from low-income families, who are first-generation Americans or college students, and who still believe in the idea and value of a college education as a pathway towards social and professional mobility. In fact, two-thirds of African-American, and Native American college students receive Pell Grants, and over half of Hispanic college students, like myself, receive Pell.
Higher education has served, and will continue to serve, as a foundation and engine of economic growth. Investing in the Pell program is a long-term investment in our future and one that returns huge dividends back into our economy. We call on Congress to put college and dreams back within the reach of students and make college affordable and accessible. We urge Congress to invest in higher education and fully fund Pell grants for millions of students in America. Do what is right."