The Pell Grant, introduced during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, has been helping students pay for college since 1965. Since it does not have to be paid back, it enables students from lower income neighborhoods to avoid costly student loans.
The White House has been looking for areas they could take money from to pay for the President’s ideas. The newest budget plan would take money from the Pell Grant program to pay for space exploration.
According to the Washington Post, the White House would take $1.9 billion from the grant program. Most of this money, $1.6 billion, would then be reallocated to NASA.
The President tweeted, “Under my Administration, we are restoring NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars. I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!”
Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars. I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2019
The Trump administration has long looked to the $1.9 billion Pell Grant surplus as a way to fund other initiatives. Wesley Denton, from the Office of Management and Budget said, “This does not cut any spending for Pell Grant programs as the budget continues to ensure all students will get their full Pell Grant and keeps the program on sound fiscal footing.”
Education advocates, though, say the surplus was intentionally built in and taking that money could imperil the program. Ben Miller, from the Center for American Progress, warns, “If we get a recession and demand for the Pell Grant spikes, we’re going to get a shortfall really fast.”