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A Question to Joe Manchin; Funding or Cutting Higher Education

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 6: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a news conference to discuss the introduction of a resolution that would require congressional approval for any military mission in Afghanistan after 2014, on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

by Gary Thompson

It is well documented that employers desire employees with a college degree and the workforce requires one to get that job that pays a living wage.

While this is well known, Higher Education is under attack in West Virginia. Over the past five years at WVU Parkersburg, tuition has risen nearly 70 percent and the State Legislature has cut their budget nearly 17 percent.

According to WV Public Broadcasting’s Liz McCormick, The West Virginia House of Delegates Budget Proposal “reduces funding for West Virginia four-year higher education institutions by 6% and the state’s community and technical colleges by 5%.”

Also, WSAZ 3 News Channel reported that the budget “… propose[es] slightly higher cuts of just under $30 million for higher education.”

WVU Parkersburg awards four-year degrees as well as two-year degrees. And now, Trump’s budget proposal “seeks an overall cut of 13 percent of the Department of Education’s funding from the current year,” according to Andrew Kreighbaum of Inside Higher Ed.

On the chopping block, are the National Endowments for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both have sponsored arts and humanities programs at WVU Parkersburg.

Most importantly, Pell Grants are under siege. They will not be extended for year round funding. Students who desire to finish their degrees early, want to use summer to catch up because they transferred, changed majors or entered college late, are not funded. This is achieved by “taking $3.9 billion from the program’s $10.6 billion surplus — a cushion that advocates had hoped to see preserved, if not used to… restore year-round Pell.”

These programs mainly benefit the underserved and low income population, of which West Virginia has far too many. Students at WVU Parkersburg struggle every day to obtain that college education. Instructors battle every day to provide a high quality education, and college and university administrators strive every day to provide the resources to enable that education.

Mr. Manchin, what will you do as our elected Senator to ensure the continuation or growth of those funds and programs that West Virginians so desperately need?

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