Cuts like a knife: Student aid sacrificed to reduce Bush’s national deficit

In a 216-214 vote, Congress proposed an $11.9 billion cut from student loan programs as part of President George W. Bush’s plan at reducing the national deficit.

With the absence of this aid, which has historically helped keep interest rates low, both students and their parents paying back loans nationwide will be plagued with higher interest rates after their graduation. Estimates report that the interest rate on parent loans alone will rise from 7.9 percent to 8.5 percent.

Proposed on Feb. 1, this cut is one of many spending cuts President Bush has outlined in his annual budget proposal. However, this cut from student aid is being criticized in the wake of Bush’s State of the Union address, where he announced his initiative to increase funding for student instruction in science and math related fields, in hope that the future leaders of America will have a strong knowledge of the subject matter.

This is not the only decrease in educational funding summarized in the budget proposal.

According to the New York Times, the president is proposing a 3.8 percent reduction in educational funding, including private-school vouchers for students in under-performing schools, from $55.92 billion to $54.41 billion.

Some students at St. John’s question the loss of educational support and the intention of the president. Sophomore Eryn-Ashlei Bailey says that it is “upsetting” to hear about this news.

“Education is such a fundamental tool and if Congress cuts $11.9 billion from student loan programs, how are students supposed to get the education that they need?” Bailey said.

As of Feb. 9, the outstanding national debt is at $8.2 trillion. Bush has proposed another tax cut this year of $70 billion and many see the cut of billions of dollars from student loan programs as a move to make up for this deficit.

Bush backs his policy of cutting taxes, believing that if the tax cuts are not renewed every year, it will lead to a “dangerous tax increase that would threaten the health of the economy,” according to the Times. Cutting taxes promotes a growing economy and a decrease in unemployment.

Junior Megan Cowles was upset by the loss of aid, but backs Bush’s decision.

“He has to cut the money somehow,” Cowles said. “There are really no governmental programs that aren’t important and that he can take the money from instead, so if the money isn’t cut from here, then where?”

Until Bush finalizes the budget proposal, there are a few things students can do to get their voices heard if they so choose. If the proposal is passed, it will be the largest student loan cut in history.