State PIRGs' Higher Education Project
218 D Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 546-9707

Ivan Frishberg

Ellynne Bannon


September 5, 2002

Dear Senator/Representative:

The United States Student Association and the State PIRGs' Higher Education Project are writing to urge you to increase student aid funding for FY 2003.

Due to state budget cuts, rising costs, and the failure of federal grant aid to keep pace with these costs, many students and families struggle to pay for college. In 1999-2000, 64 percent of students graduated with federal education loan debt, and the average student loan debt has nearly doubled over the past eight years to nearly $17,000.

In addition, nearly half of all full-time students who work are working 25 or more hours per week to help cover their college costs. Students from low-income families struggle even more-the typical Pell Grant recipient who borrows now graduates with almost $19,000 in federal education loan debt.

Increased numbers of low-income students enrolling in our colleges and universities, state budget cuts, the recession and more workers returning to school combine to make it more important than ever to invest in federal financial aid.

The current funding proposals from President Bush and the Senate appropriators do not provide enough support for the millions of students who rely on federal student aid to help them pay for college.

We urge you to increase funding for the maximum Pell Grant to $4,500 and to support amendments to increase education funding by $9 billion in FY 2003. Thank you for your continued support on student aid issues.


Mary Cunningham
U.S. Student Association
Legislative Director
Ellynne Bannon
State PIRGs'
Higher Education Advocate