Kline suggests Pell Grant cuts to super committee

WASHINGTON – Today is the deadline for Congressional committees to offer their budget-cutting recommendations to the ‘super committee’ that was tasked after this summer’s debt ceiling standoff with finding $1.2 trillion in savings by Thanksgiving.

As chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Minnesota Rep. John Kline sent a letter to the super committee outlining where he and his fellow Republicans think cuts could be made in the areas of education and labor spending.

The answer: Pell Grants, the federal government grants that help students with college tuition. Kline described the program as, “the foundation of our nation’s commitment to assist low-income students in accessing higher education.”

“Unfortunately,” Kline continued, “legislation passed in recent years, combined with the economic downturn, has put the Pell Grants program on a path to bankruptcy.”

While Kline’s letter avoided specific recommendations, he endorsed the approach taken by House Republican appropriators in their recently-unveiled Labor, Health and Human Services spending bill.

The House Republicans’ recommendations include limiting Pell Grant lifetime eligibility to six years, down from nine, and eliminating eligibility for students who are enrolled less than half time. The appropriations committee estimates the changes would save $3.6 billion just in the next fiscal year, with longer-term savings quickly reaching the tens of billions of dollars.