Pell Grants Should Be Extended

Pell Grants

Many years ago, the only thing someone needed to do to get a good job was to simply obtain a Bachelor’s Degree, but times have changed. With a host of businesses now requiring a Master’s Degree, it’s time for the government to extend Federal Pell and other grant programs to graduate students.

Today, students are finishing school with loan debts that range well over $100,000. The reason this is happening is because grant programs like Pell aren’t available to graduate students. The only way to pay for graduate school is to take out loans, and that adds up fast in graduate school.

With the economy still in the beginning phases of a recovery, there are many people out there that have Bachelor’s Degrees, however, they’re unable to find a decent job. To pay off their debt people have to work two jobs, because of one thing: student loans aren’t dischargeable via bankruptcy.

Several years ago students could discharge their loans by proving certain circumstances, but that has changed. Now, a student either pays it off entirely or goes into default and has his or her tax return taken away every year until it’s paid off. This, however, also caused the person’s credit score to be ruined.

According to the Huffington Post the problem is already having an effect on the economy as students’ debt is so large that they are unable to buy a house or car.

Extending Pell and other grant programs to graduate students will only help a little bit as students have other expenses that need to be paid in order to attend classes, like car insurance, gas and repairs.

Here is another idea that I have had for years: overhaul high school. As a senior at Cheetowaga Central, during the 1997-98 school year, I took only 2.5 credits. Those classes were Social Studies, English and Gym which were required by the school. The other 5.5 classes were study halls.

The thing is, the school year was designed for students to have the summer off so they could help attend to their family’s crops as we were an agricultural country. With the advancement in technology and child labor laws, most children are spending their summers swimming in pools, playing with friends and sleeping in. Being a father myself, I have asked people in my local school district how this affects students.

“The summer typically hurts children,” the school worker said. “Typically, children forget and lose the skills they obtained the previous year, so the first month back we have to work on getting them back.”

If the school year was overhauled so that students only have two weeks off for the Fourth of July, students should be able to graduate with a liberal arts Associate’s Degree. That would cut student debt in half because they would only need two years to graduate.

Another change should be with universities themselves:

Most businesses don’t care about what classes you take; what they actually care about are the specific skills you possess and how much experience you have. Certain skills are typically honed by actually doing the job in an internship.

Though there are many options besides Pell and other grant programs being extended to graduate students, the question is, will there be enough support in Congress to extend the program and ultimately fix this broken system altogether?