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Amy Berg, Fargo, Published August 31 2012

Letter: Ryan bad choice for ND students

Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., declared his support for Paul Ryan’s budget plan last summer, a move that has convinced me that Berg doesn’t have the best interests of low-income college students at heart.

Ryan’s budget has the wrong priorities. It could cut federal Pell Grants for college students from low-income families, and Ryan has stated that he intends to restrict eligibility for Pell Grants. With the cost of tuition rising, it is already difficult for students from low-income families to afford higher education. Pell Grants make it possible for many who otherwise could not afford it to attend college (though even with the assistance of Pell Grants, students often have to take out loans and balance multiple jobs).

Why does Berg support Ryan’s agenda, which would take away much-needed financial assistance from poor students working toward college degrees, when he also supported extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest members of our society? The answer does not have to do with balancing the budget. It has to do with what Berg and Ryan care about.

They claim that now is a bad time to increase “even slightly” taxes on the wealthy. However, what they really should be concerned about are the consequences of closing off access to higher education for low-income students. Berg and Ryan would reject our commitment to equality of opportunity and our promise of social mobility in favor of keeping their own tax rates low.

I know that we as a community support our hardworking students, and North Dakotans should be appalled that Berg and Ryan are so out of touch with the challenges that college students are facing. North Dakota deserves a senator who understands the importance of education. Berg is not that senator.