Tester fights to make college more affordable for middle-class families

Senator pushes to protect Pell Grants and rollback harmful sequester cuts that hurt student aid

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-Two weeks after the Senate passed a budget gutting student aid, Senator Jon Tester is fighting to make college more affordable for middle-class families.

Tester sent letters to Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee, urging them to preserve funding for Pell Grants to help low- and moderate- income families pursue higher education, and to restore Perkins funding to 2012 pre-sequester levels to strengthen career and technical education at secondary and postsecondary institutions.

“Too many Montana families can’t keep up with rising tuitions, and those who graduate do so with a pile of debt,” Tester, a former teacher, said after signing the letters. “We need to be creating opportunities for students, not limiting them. Pell and Perkins open up doors so that with hard work, students can get a strong education, a good-paying job, and create the future they’ve dreamed about.”

Pell Grants provide tuition assistance to low- and moderate- income students seeking a college degree. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 90 percent of the fastest growing jobs in America demand a college degree, and by 2020 our nation will need 13 million more people with bachelor’s degrees.

Perkins Career and Technical Education funding is the principle source of federal support for career and technical education for two-year colleges. This funding was reduced under sequestration and has yet to be restored, threatening the program’s ability to serve millions of students across the country. More than 150 Montana high schools participate in the Perkins Career and Technical Education initiative.

Tester last month took to the Senate Floor and criticized the harmful cuts to student aid and Pell Grants included in the Senate and House budgets.