Tuesday, September 04, 2012

McCaskill: Todd Akin would eliminate Pell Grants, let bankers decide who will go to college

(From the Claire McCaskill campaign)

As Claire McCaskill visits the University of Missouri and Westminster College today to discuss the importance of Pell grants and other federal higher education programs, her opponent, Todd Akin, recently reiterated his opposition to Pell Grants and federal college affordability programs. Todd Akin's positions on this critical issue for Missouri's students and families shows once again that his positions are far beyond Missouri's mainstream, and that his priorities lie with special interests instead of Missouri's working families.

"Pell Grants are a crucial funding source for Missouri's hard-working families, and eliminating these funds would put Big Banks in charge of deciding which Missouri students get to go to college," said Erik Dorey, McCaskill for Missouri spokesman. "Need-based awards like Pell Grants are a commonsense tool for helping more than 175,000 of Missouri's students create opportunity for themselves. Claire waited tables to put herself through college, and she knows firsthand what access to higher education means to Missouri's families. Todd Akin's opposition to Pell Grants just goes to show that he would not be a Senator on the side of Missouri's students, and is just another example of how Todd Akin is just too far outside the mainstream for Missouri."

Pell Grants, the largest source of federal financial aid, are awarded and funded through the U.S. Department of Education. In the 2011-2012 school year, 175,508 Missouri students received Pell grants, many of whom also take out federal student loans to cover the cost of their education.

Todd Akin has been a vocal advocate for entirely eliminating the Department of Education, which would end the Pell grant program, and has notably called federal student loans a "Stage III cancer of socialism."

As Missouri's Senator, Claire has made affordable higher education a top priority and has been a strong advocate for students and middle class families. In 2007, she helped to pass long-overdue legislation that increased the number and value of Pell Grants.


Akin Said That He Would Eliminate the Department of Education. Speaking at a Republican debate in Branson in January 2012, Akin said that he would vote to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Energy. As reported by the Associated Press, "Asked what federal agencies they would like to eliminate, Akin and Steelman said they supported getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education. Akin also cited the Department of Commerce as an 'incredibly mettlesome' agency ripe for elimination along with the Department of Energy though he said its supervision of the nation's nuclear stockpile was important enough that the duty would need to be carried out by some other agency." [Associated Press, 1/31/12]

Federal Student Loans and Pell Grants Are Funded Through and Administered by the Department of Education. "The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study funds, and low-interest loans to more than 14 million students. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in the federal student aid programs. [FederalStudentAid.ed.gov]

More Than 175,000 Students in Missouri Received Federal Pell Grants During the 2011-2012 School Year. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 175,508 students in Missouri received Federal Pell Grants during the 2011-2012 school year. [FederalStudentAid.gov]

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