The University Record, April 10, 1995

Kunin issues wake-up call on financial aid

Kunin issues wake-up call on financial aid

By Julie Peterson
News and Information Services

Madeleine Kunin, U.S. deputy secretary of education, issued a wake-up call to the University community March 31 when she outlined a number of cuts in student financial aid being proposed under the Contract with America. Kunin, who visited campus as one of four keynote speakers for the 30th Anniversary Conference of the Center for the Education for Women, also gave a public talk earlier in the day.

One of the major programs on the chopping block is the direct lending program for student loans, in which the U-M was among the first to participate. Other programs slated for cuts as part of the Contract, Kunin said, include the Pell Grant program; Americorps, which funds college education for students who participate in community service; in-school subsidies of interest owed on student loans; and school-based programs such as Work-Study.

Between 35 and 45 percent of U-M students receive financial aid, she noted, while at universities nationwide the average is about 50 percent. About 70 percent of that aid is provided through federal programs.

"We have built a system where, in reality, no one has to say no to college because of financial barriers, and that is a major accomplishment," she said. "The whole idea is for students not to be bound by who they are and who their parents are, but to see education as that great ladder. To make that ladder more shaky and more fragile sends absolutely the wrong message."

U.S. Rep. Lynn Rivers, D-Ann Arbor, who joined Kunin for the public session, noted that "the sentiment among the majority in Washington is that the federal government should be dealing with national defense and foreign relations, and not much else." Programs related to education are in "terrific danger," she said.

Both women urged students and others interested in the programs to write to members of Congress from their home district and to encourage fellow students from other geographical areas to do likewise.