Democrat Dan Maffei is promising to try and help families struggling with the cost of college. The Congressional candidate says a big part of that is keeping the grant and loan programs that help millions of students pay for an education.
Maffei says he and his opponent in the race for the 24th Congressional district stand on different sides when it comes to support for federal programs that help college students pay for an education. Maffei says incumbent Republican Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle's support for the Paul Ryan budget plan, could means cuts for low income students who receive Pell Grants from the federal government.
Maffei says figures from the federal Office of Management and Budget estimates a million students would lose grants if there was a 19 percent cut in the discretionary budget line that includes Pell Grants, and 9.6 million students could receive smaller grants.
"It basically does this blanket cut of a third or more across the board, and the way the OMB calculated it was to make that cut equal across the board. But it's not impossible that you would have bigger cuts in Pell Grants and other kinds of educational assistance for students. We just don't know," Maffei said.
A handful of students who joined Maffei at his news conference in Syracuse, said the Pell Grant program can cover about a quarter of their college costs.
For Syracuse University senior Colin Crowley, says if Pell Grants were cut out, "it would definitely be a deal breaker."
Crowley was one of those students who stood by as the congressional candidate pledged to keep federal programs in place that help keep the cost of college down for many.
"We need to make sure we provide some sort of level of support for students to go and get the best education they can. It's a national priority. If you don't then we're gonna lose money in the future because the economy is going to fail," said Maffei.
SU junior Courtney Cox says federal help is the only way she's been able to afford college.
"I was looking at SU and really wanted to go there. Didn't think I would have the funds to go there, until I looked into and was granted a Stafford loan. It really made my dream come true. I don't know where I'd be without it. I couldn't even afford a SUNY School," she said.
Dan Maffei and Ann Marie Buerkle are in a tight race for the 24th Congressional district. Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum is also running.