A Senate subcommittee voted last Thursday to keep the maximum Pell Grant award at $5,550, while cutting the National Institutes of Health budget by $190 million, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

One part of the Pell Grant program, a six-month, post-graduation interest subsidy on undergraduate student loans, will not survive if this Senate proposal is included in the 2012 budget.

Under the proposal, the allocations for the Federal Work-Study Program and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants would be maintained at this year’s rates. At the same time, a recent release of student loan default rates reported sizable increases in the percentage of students who were unable to pay back their debts.

In terms of the NIH budget, the bill would eliminate the National Center for Research Resources. Twenty million dollars would be allocated to a new program called the “Cures Acceleration Network,” whose mission would be to speed up the process of moving research into the treatment and cure phase.

The proposal is set to be debated before the full Senate Appropriations Committee this Wednesday.

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