Students Advocate to Save the Pell Grant at ASACC Conference

by Paul Goraczko

Imagine a world without education. Think about what that world would be like. What would the repercussions be?

On March 19, eight students from Montgomery County Community College were confronted with this question when they attended the American Student Association of Community College’s 2011 National Student Advocacy Conference, which was held in Washington, D.C.

The eight students, including myself, attended the conference in order to address the issue of H.R. 1, a continuing resolution that aims to cut the 2011-2012 maximum Pell Grant by $845—reducing the maximum award from $5,550 to $4,705.

For nearly forty years, the Pell Grant program has been a foundation of federal postsecondary financial assistance for students from low-income families. It has given millions of students the opportunity to attend institutes of higher education.

My fellow students and I attended ASACC’s Student Advocacy Conference on behalf of the more than 3,900 students at MCCC that receive Pell Grant funding.

We paid visits to the offices Rep. Patrick Meehan, Rep. Jim Gerlach, Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, and also Rep. Charles W. Dent.

In our meetings with the representative’s staffers, we advocated on behalf of non-Pell Grant and Pell Grant recipients alike by sharing our personal stories.

Psychology major and Student Government Association Senator Arthur Mongrande, a recipient of the Pell Grant, expressed his gratitude for the Pell Grant.

In our meeting with Rep. Meehan’s staffer Mongrande said, “Without the Pell Grant, I probably wouldn’t be able to attend college.”

As heartbreaking as it is, it’s true. Without the Pell Grant, many of the College’s students wouldn’t be able to attend college.

Over the last six years at Montgomery County Community College, the number of students utilizing Pell Grant funding has increased 122%, and 20% more students needed Pell Grants this year than last.

At the College, 2,404 students receive the maximum Pell Grant funding of $5,550 per year.

Needless to say, Pell Grants are critical to the continuation of many students’ educations.

It is estimated that 1.5 million students across the United States will not be able to go to school next year if the Pell Grant funding cuts are passed.

So the question remains. Do you want live in a world that does not support higher education?

If not, my fellow SGA members and I urge you to contact your Senators and your Representatives.

For more information on how you can get in contact with your Congressmen and women, please visit the Student Leadership and Involvement office in College Hall.

You can also email CCoia@mc3.edu or visit http://www.savemypellgrant.com.

——————————————————————————————-

Paul Goraczko is a Liberal Studies major at the College. He will graduate in May 2011.

Pictured from left are Christopher Coia, Director of Student Leadership and Involvement with students Jonathan Christie, Teresa Lundy, Arthur Mongrande, Natasha McIntyre, Bill Reynolds, Shaina Goldberg, Paul Goraczko, and Kelsey Duhack

One thought on “Students Advocate to Save the Pell Grant at ASACC Conference

  1. Thanks so much to the student advocates for attending the conference and for standing up for student aid!

    Leanne Finnigan
    Librarian @ MC3 (and a former Pell Grant recipient)

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