Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Start school before it’s too late!

The impact of federal budget cuts on your future education.

By Arkady Khazin


European Massage Therapy School

If you have been thinking about attending college or a career school, such as the European Massage Therapy School, and considered applying for Federal Financial Aid, you may want to move fast. The main reason for this is that Student Financial Aid as we know it may become a thing of the past. Funds that were previously available to all prospective college students are now becoming scarce and there is a chance that some financial aid programs will disappear entirely.

I am sure you’ve been paying attention to the recent budget battles on Capitol Hill, and you probably realized that the country is not in such great financial shape. Our government needs to start spending less and start saving more. Both major political parties agree that spendings must be cut, and it’s just a matter of how much cutting should take place and what budgetary items should get an axe.

One area that I personally believe should be preserved is education. Education must be our country’s first priority if America is to remain competitive with the rest of the industrialized world. Education in general especially with college and career education should be affordable and available to those in search of careers to better their lives. I don’t think there is a single politician in Washington that would publicly disagree with this statement. And yet, both political parties agreed to make some cuts to Federal Student Aid programs and even eliminate some programs altogether.

President Obama and some Democratic and Republican lawmakers have proposed a major change to the Pell grant program that could prove devastating both in the short and long-term. The current proposal would mean a decrease of more than $20 billion in Pell grant money for the academic year 2011 to 2012. However, the proposal also consists of another reduction of Pell grant money in the tune of $100 billion over the next 10 years. In a press conference, Arne Duncan, the United States Secretary of Education confirmed the facts of President Obama’s budget reduction.

These changes will affect every single student in America, regardless of whether they choose to get their education from a public university, a private career school or a community college. Millions of students in the United States depend on money from the government Pell grant program to earn a college education. For students who want to complete a degree or those interested in starting school, Pell grant money is designed to offer financial assistance when income levels are not sufficient enough for these individuals to achieve their goal. Although specific criteria must be met for qualification, this money has paved way for many people to not just earn a college degree but be able to go out into the real world to secure gainful employment.

Over the past year, the amount of money available for the Pell grant program has decreased. Among those who lost their jobs during the most recent recession, more and more people turned to career schools and colleges to upgrade their skills or re-train for new careers. The increase in demand for Pell Grants put additional burden on the Federal Student Aid programs. The proposed cut in Financial Aid will force educational institutions to make dramatic changes. For many colleges and universities, this reduction will mean denying some people from being accepted as students. The cost of tuition and other fees may go up to help absorb the additional cost.

While most Americans would agree the recent financial crisis created a dark cloud looming over the country from an economic standpoint, if the proposed Pell grant reduction were to be enacted, the number of low income students wanting a college education would be massive. Unfortunately, because people with the greatest needs are the ones who depend on financial aid of this type most, the loss of funding would mean the loss of an opportunity to earn a degree or start a new career, and hence secure a stable and good paying job.

Experts estimate that more than 9 million students throughout the United States currently receive a Pell grant reward of some level. Because of the way this program was developed, students of greatest need receive the highest rewards whereas those with the least need receive a lower amount of financial aid. Obviously, the number of returning students and those trying to get into college with the greatest financial need would decrease if the proposal by President Obama were to be approved.

So what does this all mean? Starting next Financial Aid Award Year, less and less federal money will be available for education and students like YOU will need to find new ways to raise significant amounts of money for their tuition. The cuts could reduce Pell Grants by more than $1,000 per semester for some.

I am not trying to be political here or blame any political party nor any particular politician. I am just trying to apply some common sense. I am sure there are plenty of wasteful and unnecessary government programs that can be trimmed without any serious consequences. Consider the following facts:

· In the opening days of the assault on Libya, the United States launched a barrage of at least 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles to flatten Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses and pave the way for coalition aircraft. In fiscal terms, at a time when Congress is fighting over every dollar, the cruise missile show of military might was an expenditure of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Each missile costs $1.41 million.

· Certain government programs, such as high-speed rail was to receive $53 billion in funding. I don’t know about you, but I don’t imagine too many people hopping on those high speed trains to travel to other cities. Rail systems seem to have an especially dismal record when it comes to usage when measured against original projected use and cost estimates. Japan’s system needed financial rescuing in 1987, and Taiwan’s line needed help in 2009.But perhaps the biggest mega-mess is China’s $300-billion high-speed rail project. It’s $271 billion in debt, and it’s been fraught with corruption and graft from the get-go. I would rather invest this money in educating American students.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 235 to 193 to approve a Republican fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget resolution that would roll back the 2012-13 maximum Pell Grant to FY2008 levels. The budget resolution would reduce the maximum Pell Grant award to pre-stimulus levels. While the resolution lacks details, this could mean returning Pell to FY2008 levels, resulting in a maximum Pell Grant of $2,090 for the 2012-13 academic year. Additionally, the Republican budget resolution calls for the repealing and defunding of the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA), which includes mandatory funding for the Pell Grant program. This could further lower the maximum grant by $690. Additional options outlined for review by the resolution include:

  • changes to limit the lifetime limits of the Pell Grant program
  • repealing the expansion of income-based repayment provisions in the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), and eliminating interest subsidies on all Stafford Loans.

Keep in mind that most of these cuts to Pell Grants and other programs will start materializing next year, so if you were to enroll in EMTS now, you could avoid these cuts and still receive your Pell Grants. But don’t wait, because it doesn’t seem like things won’t be getting any better any time soon.

Don’t wait and take advantage of Federal Financial Aid programs! Call the European Massage Therapy School now and see how we can help you start a rewarding career in the field of Massage Therapy. New classes are starting in July, so act now!