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A new proposal from the Bush administration may make it more difficult for African American students hoping to attend college. The proposal would end college-prep programs that service low-income or at-risk students and would replace them with block grants given to the states.

Right now- according to the Council of Opportunity in Education- these programs such as Upward Bound and Talent Search aid at least 872,000 low-income Americans.

Thirty-five percent of those supported are African-Americans.

The proposal is not clear on how the money from the cut programs would be used or if it would benefit the same set of students.

The proposal would also eliminate the federal Perkins Loan Program and transfers the funds into Pell Grants. Already, over 85,000 students have become ineligible for the Pell Grant from a change in the formula and 1.2 million students will receive smaller awards.

Even for those who are eligible, the Pell Grant is not sufficient financial aid. A 2002 Institute for Higher Education Policy study reported that, at most, the Pell Grant covers about one-third of the cost of a four-year public institution.

When students pay off their loans, it is the Perkins Loan that allows a lenient repayment plan for those who pursue low-paying careers such as social work and teaching in low-income districts.

The timing of these cuts coincides with financial aid cuts in numerous states and suggests smaller awards to fewer students.

John Turner, the Asst. Area Develop. Dir. of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), said these cuts will have a negative impact on minority students. In Turner's view, a classical education- a high school and college degree- is the only way to earn white-collar jobs. Without the opportunity for an education, African American students may be led astray.

“Many people will get discouraged and paralyzed from analyzing the situation,” Turner described, “[Students] may become prey to the eels of society such as gangs, drugs, and jail.”

Turner suggested that the community will have to compensate for the cuts by participating in programs such as the UNCF.

The UNCF disperses its community-raised funds to 39 colleges, 38 of which are concentrated south of the Mason-Dixon Line , to lower tuition for students. The left over money supplements financial aid.

Turner also suggested that students will have to rally around different options of financing.

But finding alternatives may not be so easy. Private loans are difficult for low-income students to qualify for and they have higher interest rates. If the proposal brings cuts in direct federal aid and in programs such as Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) that provides need-based grants, the range of options in federal loans will decrease.

DISCLAIMER

These articles were composed as assignments for the class "Comm482: Alternative Journalism." The views presented here are solely of the authors participating in this class and do not in any way reflect the views of the University or its instructor. Feedback welcomed:

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Communication Department | Course Syllabus | Dr. Mayer's Site | Spring 2005