Thursday, March 24, 2011

Outgoing King's President Asks Students to Oppose Education Cuts

(Wilkes-Barre) -Outgoing King's College president Fr. O'Hara has sent out an email Wednesday requesting that students oppose the cuts in educational funding. Below is part of the email attachment:
As you may know, Legislative actions have been proposed to reduce government spending on Federal and State levels. If certain budget reduction measures are passed, it will result in significant cuts to student financial aid programs for significant numbers of King’s College students for the 2011-12 academic year.

The financial impact on our students will be felt in the form of a decrease of $ 845.00 in the maximum federal PELL grant award (from $5,550.00 to $4705.00). In addition, the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG) will be eliminated. This will result in the loss of anywhere from $500.00 upwards to $2,000.00 per eligible student for the coming academic year. For some students, this amounts to as much as $2,485.00 less in grant money beginning in 2011-12.

On the state level, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) may need to reduce further state grant awards, which have already been declining annually since 2007-08 when the maximum award amount was $4,700.00. Estimated maximum awards for 2011-12 are now at $3,064.00, a decrease of $1,636.00 in the maximum award.

There is still time to contact state and federal representatives to ask them to maintain funding for student financial aid. You can help retain these vital grant programs by contacting your senator, congressman and state representatives.

Fr. O'Hara strongly opposes the proposed education cuts, as was evident from his impassioned criticism of them during an informal Q&A portion of an event at the college featuring Patrick Mulloy on Tuesday March 22. The fact that O'Hara is set to step down this summer must have made this request involving a political issue seem easier. He seems convinced that, amid budget cuts, education is one area that ought not to be cut, probably in part because he believes government investment in education allows for a more productive future workforce.

But a better word to describe the proposed reductions is not a "cut" in education, but simply "giving less tax-payer money toward education". This is not because more money is being sent to other causes, but because there is a general scaling back of government funding. One would assume that Fr. O'Hara either believes there ought not to be an overall cut in spending, that the education cut should be smaller, or that other areas should be cut instead education.

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