A group of students and community organizers gathered at the University of Illinois at Chicago Thursday to call attention to the effects that sequestration will have on higher education. The sequester slashes funding for Pell Grants and the Federal Work Study program. At UIC, 55 percent of students are Pell Grant-eligible.
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The Pell Grant is “the cornerstone of financial aid for students and it’s important to fight for,” said Ponnu Padiyara, Undergraduate Student Government president. “We recognize that as a part of Undergraduate Student Government and it’s about time that Congress does too.”
Ken Thomas is a senior at UIC and plans on going to law school. The 21-year-old Midlothian student comes from a single-parent family and says without Pell Grant and work study, he wouldn’t have been able to afford college. “I have no clue what I would’ve been able to do if I wasn’t in school,” Thomas said. “Maybe I’d be out on the street selling drugs or doing something that would put me in jail.” He says without the Pell Grant or work study, thousands of students wouldn’t be able to afford college.
Work study would be affected first, with around 2,650 students no longer able to receive work study in Illinois. Pell Grants remain safe through the end of 2013 but would be cut in 2014.
Representatives from Illinois Organizing for Action, UIC and Loyola University participated in the event.