Cravaack under fire for vote to cut financial aid

Students and Duluth community leaders are criticizing newly elected GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack for a vote that could lead to severe cuts to a financial aid program.

They took turns at the microphone on the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus to denounce cuts to the federal Pell Grant program. The cuts are part of a spending bill that passed the U.S. House two weeks ago.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the bill reduces Pell Grant spending over the next decade by $64 billion.

Duluth Council member Jackie Halberg is working on a master's degree at UMD, and called the cuts part of a systematic assault on the middle class.

"As the income gap gets bigger and bigger, it's a chasm," she said. "It's not a gap. It's a chasm."

UMD student and campus Democratic party leader Zack Filipovich echoed Halberg's claim.

"What we're seeing coming out of Washington, and certainly at the state level all across the country, is an attack on the poor, on the working class, and on the middle class of this country, including the ability of young people to go to college," Filipovich said.

Filipovich said about 30 percent of UMD students receive Pell Grants. However, if left alone, the program faces a multi-billion dollar deficit.

Cravaack did not reply to a request for a response.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers called the spending bill a massive down payment on the new Republican majority's commitment to drastically decrease discretionary funding.

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