WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has invited a Rhode Island College student to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Travis Escobar, a junior political science major, was the first member of his family to attend college and relies on Pell Grants to fund his education.
“As the cost of higher education continues to skryrocket in our country, Pell Grants are now more vital than ever to Rhode Island families, and I’m committed to protecting this program from any attacks in Congress,” said Whitehouse. “Travis’ story is a great example of how Pell Grants can help our kids achieve their dreams, and I’m glad he’ll be joining me to help send a message to Washington: don’t cut Pell Grants.”
Whitehouse said he “has been fighting hard to protect the Pell Grant program from harmful budget cuts,” saying last year House Republicans attempted to slash funding for the grants.
The number of students receiving Pell Grants between the 2009-2010 school year and the 2010-2011 year increased 16 percent, Whitehouse said. He also noted that the “purchasing power of these grants has declined. Today, the maximum Pell grant covers 32 percent of the cost of four year public university tuition – down from 72 percent in 1976.”