CINCINNATI - Chris Hamm knows his ticket to success is an accounting degreethat he’s currently pursuing from the University ofCincinnati.
However, his future wasn’t as clear cut Monday afterlearning there could be cuts coming in the Federal Pell GrantProgram.
President Obama suggested trimming $100 billion in Pell Grantsand other educational expenses in the next decade to reduce thefederal budget.
Hamm, from Avondale, gets roughly 25 percent of his collegemoney from the grants.
“It’s a big chunk of my tuition,” he said.“I don’t think I’d be able to afford school ifthe Pell Grant is cut.”
Around 85 percent of UC students get some sort of financial aid,according to Caroline Miller, UC’s Sr. AssociateVice-President for Enrollment Management and Associate Provost.That includes $350 million in federal dollars and $35 million ininstitutional funding.
“Pell Grants are the lifeline to our most needystudents,” she said. “The basic cut line is thatroughly a family of four making about $40,000 would beeligible.
Miller said any federal cuts will quickly trickle down tostudents.
“The three options they will be faced with are taking outmore loans, which causes a downstream problem, working too much,which probably causes a balancing act problem and stopping outuntil they can garner the resources to continue theireducation,” she said.
Ohio’s struggles with an $8 billion deficit in thebudget for the next two years will pose additional challenges forUC, according to spokesperson Greg Hand.
Hand said there will be cuts, but nobody knows the amount. So,the University is planning ahead.
“We have asked every University department to prepare abudget plan for Fiscal 2012 showing a 20 percent reduction infunding,” he said.
That could mean students will have to pay more to attend UC.
“It’s almost certain that tuition is going to goup,” Hand said.
UC Student Body President Drew Smith said he and colleagues fromother state schools have organized a letter-writing campaign tolobby Representatives, Senators and the Governor in Columbus.
“We have over 3,000 signatures on letters so far thatwe’re going to be delivering to the Governor’s officein a few weeks just stating that we stand for highereducation,” Smith said. “It’s important to thefuture of Ohio. It’s important to the students.
Hamm is studying his options right now – planning for theworst and hoping for the best.
“I may try to find other loans. Ask my parents to help meco-sign a loan. I don’t know,” he said. “MaybeI’ll have to take a year off.”