Millions of Americans who rely on food stamps will find it easier to feed their families next year if Congress passes a budget by midnight Thursday as expected. But needy Americans seeking financial assistance for college will have less money to further their education if the spending plan to cut Pell Grants by $300 million is approved.
The $1.1 trillion budget agreement between Senate and House leaders would fund the government through September 2015. It allocates $82 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps, according to Fox News. The program was hit hard by the budget ax last year, when Congress appropriated $73.8 billion for food stamps, a nearly $10 billion reduction from 2012. There were more than 46 million people on food stamps as of August 2014, the latest statistic available, according to the nonprofit Food and Research Action Center in Washington.
The Pell Grant program, which helps the poorest Americans attend college, wasn’t spared from cuts in the 2015 budget plan. It sets aside $33.97 billion for the education grants, a $300 million cut from the $33.7 million allocated last year, or a less than 1 percent decrease. About two-thirds of black undergraduate college students receive Pell Grants, which don’t have to be paid back, and a little more than half of Latino students, according to the Washington Post.
"We constantly worry that any spending bill is going to involve negotiations over Pell. We have seen funding shortfalls in the past and Congress always ends up having to find additional dollars elsewhere to fund the program," Jennifer Wang, policy director of Young Invincibles, a youth advocacy organization, told the Post. "Why put students in that position again?"
The majority of the budget goes to defense spending, or roughly $521 billion. About $64 billion of that is for military operations, according to the Post. If the legislation is enacted, defense spending would rise 5 percent from the $496 billion in 2013.
If you want more details about the budget, you can read the entire 1,603-page document below: