Call to Action:Preserve Critical Federal Funding for Education

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If you have been keeping up with the latest happenings in the Florida Legislature — and if you haven’t been, then here’s a good place to start — then you know that one of the biggest topics of concern being discussed are several legislative acts designed to cut the funding in several areas of education. Florida has been in a state of education crisis for the past couple of years, seeing budget cut after budget cut that GCCC/GCSC has been valiantly working to buffer the impact these cuts have on our students and faculty and staff. Even still, tuition costs have risen and the need to stimulate dollars for campus operation has forced the campus to get creative, such as the imposed paid parking permits.

But early Saturday morning, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own legislation, H.R. 1, that reduced spending for the current federal fiscal year 2011 by almost $100 billion.

To put this in a more personally-understood relation, this deep reduction puts a pretty devestating cut to the Pell Grant program — an area of the most importance for our students. With the cuts, maximum grant would drop by $845 for the award year starting July 1. In effect, students would be responsible for this cut by the cost of tuition rising $845. That would have a total impact on about two million needy students who rely on the Pell Grant, and would negate all the hard won increases in the maximum grant that has been secured over the last four years — including President Obama’s Education Reconciliation Act, which increased the Pell Grant scholarship award.

H.R.1 would also de-fund all Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs (a critical part of not only our college by also our community) for the rest of the year, significantly reduce funding for the Hispanic-serving Institutions program, and eliminate the Predominantly Black Institutions and Tech Prep programs.

H.R.1 now moves on to the Senate for consideration. It is important that Senators understand the kind of critical damage passing H.R.1 would have on our students in higher education. They need to hear from YOU that the substantial cuts to the Pell Grant and other key programs is unnacceptable. AACC logoDeep cuts like this deny accessibility to attend college and receive critical services that the community and state colleges afford the community and as a whole will harm the nation’s economy.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is asking that in communication with your Senators, that you include the following message:

  1. The $5,500 Pell Grant maximum must be maintained for FY 2011. A cut of $845 as included in the House version of H.R. 1 is disastrous public policy. It would decrease opportunities to attend and succeed at community college. It would also damage the nation’s economy by preventing people from acquiring the training that they need.
  2. WIA programs must continue to receive adequate funding. The House version of H.R. 1 eliminates all funding for the major WIA Title I programs for Program Year 2011. Community colleges across the country use these programs to provide a variety of job training services; cutting them is a short-sighted move at this time.
  3. The federal government must maintain targeted investments in a few critical institutional programs, including Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Predominantly Black Institutions, and Asian-American Serving Institutions. These programs must be maintained.

The AACC also suggests that the more locally focused you can make your case, the better. Tell Senators about the extent to which students depend on Pell Grant. This is an EVERYBODY crisis — as beings of a community with social responsibility, we are all responsible for providing accessibility to higher education for everyone. Describe to Senators how Workforce helps meet local labor market and related needs.

For information about contacting your senator’s office, please consult the AACC website by visiting www.aacc.nche.edu.

Additional [Source] information.

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