Bend, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley completed his statewide tour of Oregon to highlight the very real impacts that the recently passed Senate budget will have on Oregonians and the need for a different approach that puts the middle class first. Merkley visited the Oregon State University Cascades campus in Bend to discuss how the Senate budget would make drastic cuts to Pell grants for Oregon students.
“In town halls across Oregon, I hear from concerned high school students about the skyrocketing cost of a college education and how the dream of higher education is slipping away,” said Merkley. “We can’t afford for college to become a luxury for only the best off and that’s what the Republican budget is saying to our kids. With cuts to the Pell grant program and changes to make student loans more expensive for students, this budget goes in exactly the wrong direction.”
Under the Republican budget passed last week by the Senate, which Senator Merkley voted against, $90 million in Pell grant funding would be cut over the next decade. Additionally, the House budget would freeze the maximum Pell grant amount for ten years, even though tuition and room and board costs continue to increase.
The Republican budget also changes the way that student loans are accounted for by the federal government. The change would make student loans appear more expensive for the federal government than they actually are. By contrast, Merkley has cosponsored legislation to reduce the interest rate students are charged and to allow people to refinance student loans.
“As the first in my family to go to college, I know all too well how daunting the cost of college can be to students from working families. And with the cost of college going through the roof, it’s more important than ever to focus on making college affordable for the middle class,” continued Merkley.