Issues Spotlight

Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant program provides need-based grants to students from low-income families with the goal of increasing access to higher education. The program provides funds for students from families earning less than $40,000 per year, with the majority of funds reserved for those earning around $20,000 or less per year. During Nov. 13-19, we’re asking individuals to express their appreciation for the Pell Grant program to Congressional representatives. Show your support for a program that supports 7.6 million students nationally to help pay for college every year by sending a letter, Tweet, or Facebook post. Starting on Nov. 13, visit the NCAN action center to share your story with members of Congress.

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The Pell Grant is critical as it enables students to attend an institution of higher education, which may otherwise be inaccessible. President Trump’s “skinny budget,” released March 16th, calls for cuts to the Pell Grant program by the amount of $3.9 billion. This money is about 40% of the Grant Program’s surplus, which is reserved for when there are increases in need beyond expectations. Advocates state these funds could be used to restore the Grant to year-round funding, which would enable students to receive aid for summer term. Cutting these funds is withholding much-needed financial assistance from the thousands of vulnerable students who need it most to further their development and succeed in higher education.

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To those affected by the administration's decision, know that we support you. We commit to collectively working together to urge Congress to quickly and permanently protect undocu-students.

Express your support for the DACA program and urge Congress to pass legislation in a timely way that will allow these individuals to continue to be productive members of our communities, click below to contact your Congressional representatives and House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: 

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More on DACA

Five years ago former President Obama created a new program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA provides nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children eligibility for a work permit and deferment from deportation actions. Approximately 95,000 of a million K-12 students in Washington state schools have undocumented parents and thus live with the real concern of parents being deported and uncertainty about their ability to afford college. Twenty-five percent of DACA individuals are pursuing postsecondary education while working, and upon graduation, DACA-eligible workers are most commonly found in white-collar jobs. These resilient individuals are our neighbors, paying taxes and serving in our military as well as helping our economy thrive.  In short, DACA individuals are important, contributing members of our college campuses and in our communities.

Yesterday the Trump Administration formally rescinded the DACA program. The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for the program as of next Tuesday but will continue renewing permits for anyone whose status expires in the next six months, giving Congress time to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live in the US. This defines the window of time Congress has to act to preserve the program's protections before the DACA recipients begin losing their status March 5, 2018. Many members of Congress have expressed their support for a legislative solution, which could range from a compromise to passing a bipartisan Dream Act. Business leaders, especially in the technology sector, have also expressed concern with the decision, which could dampen the economy. A study earlier this year by the Center for American Progress estimated that the loss of all DACA workers would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by $433 billion over the next 10 years.

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state need grant

Washington State’s successful student aid program – the State Need Grant (SNG) – provides funding for low-and-middle income students to attend 66 higher education and career training institutions throughout the state. The State Need Grant helps low-income students to ease the burden of the high cost of postsecondary education. Currently this program serves 69,000 students each year, with awards ranging from $1,412 and $10,868, depending on the student’s need and the type of institution attended. Although the program helps a large number of students, it leaves 24,000 eligible students without a State Need Grant award due to underfunding of the program. These students depend on the state funds to make higher education accessible and affordable. With the legislative session and budget negotiations underway, the WA State Legislature is deciding how to appropriate funds for the next two years. Call, email, or handwrite a letter to your state representatives today and demand full funding for the WA State Need Grant program, to ensure all Washington students have a chance to pursue their education dream and to help fill the 740,000 projected job openings over the next five years.  Click on the image to open a larger view of the map. 

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