As my last column pointed out, Katrina may lead to even more cuts to student aid, now through emergency "budget reconciliation" bills.
From a MoveOn email this morning:
Emergency campaign to save health care, student loans, and pensions
Here's a brief description of the budget process: Last spring, Congress passed a budget and tax blueprint calling for three major changes: $35 billion in cuts to vital national services, $70 billion in new tax cuts, largely for the wealthy, and an additional $35 billion tacked onto the deficit. This was bad policy before Katrina, but now it's a catastrophe. Responsible leaders on both sides of the aisle have called for canceling this process, called "budget reconciliation," in light of the cost and increased need created by the hurricane.
But instead of changing course, top Republicans are now using Katrina to argue for $15 billion in additional cuts to the services that the hurricane victims and other vulnerable Americans depend on the most.
From a press release today by the US Students Association and the State PIRG's Higher Education Project:
...the reauthorization of the 1965 Higher Education Act continues to be defined by a budget resolution that is at odds with the goals of the Act. As you know, many of America’s students and families find themselves struggling with college debt and affordability. Yet the budget resolution and reconciliation process asks that students, already in a financial hole, dig deeper.
Given the challenges facing students we believe it is imperative not to pay for tax cuts and disaster relief out of their pockets. Where efficiencies and savings can be identified in the student loan programs, we ought to direct these savings to students and to making higher education more affordable.