Ed. Note: Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Eduardo Ochoa recently spoke to the American Student Association of Community Colleges and affirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to providing college aid to low-income students by preserving the maximum Pell Grant at $5,550.
Amber Mullins, a community college student in Tampa, Fla., submitted the following post to explain why Pell Grants are so important to students like her.
As a single mother of two and a student at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla., I am extremely grateful for community colleges and the role they play in our society. I am attending Hillsborough in their business administration program, trying to develop lifelong career skills that will allow me to support my two children and me.
This opportunity is only possible because of the Pell Grant Program. At last week’s American Student Association of Community Colleges’ (ASACC) National Student Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C., we spent two days discussing the importance of the Pell Grant to millions of students like me. This small investment (we also learned that education receives less than 3 percent of the federal budget) in students will pay great dividends over time by keeping America at the forefront of economic and workforce competitiveness. Some in Congress are proposing to cut the maximum Pell Grant, which would be detrimental to me and millions of other students. It would also likely extend the time it will take for me to complete my education. The reason it will take longer to complete my degree is that without that money, I will have to work longer hours at a part-time job, to support my family instead of focusing on my degree.
One of of the highlights of the ASACC conference was a speech by Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Eduardo Ochoa. He spoke to more than 375 students about the priorities of the U.S. Department of Education and President Obama. We were excited to hear that the number-one short-term goal in higher education of the Department of Education and President Obama was the same as that of ASACC: Maintain the Pell Grant maximum award at $5,550 for Fiscal Year 2012.
The conference not only taught students about the issues facing America’s education system, but provided us with the opportunity to visit the offices of our representatives and senators to share our stories. By telling my story of how the Pell Grant has transformed my college experience and has given me new opportunities, I believe I told the story of so many more just like myself who have benefited from this important program.
Amber Mullins is a student at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla. and vice president of communications for the American Student Association of Community Colleges. The views reflected here are her own.