For high school students around the country, receiving a college acceptance letter is a life changing moment. These letters bring with them feelings of jubilation and excitement about what lies ahead. However, these positive feelings are often accompanied by extreme anxiety when students realize that their dreams come with a hefty price tag.
The DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) provides DC students with a chance to pursue these dreams by giving students up to $10,000 per year towards tuition at a public university. This vital program levels the playing field for DC students by offering similar financial opportunities given to students in every other part of the country.
President Trump has proposed defunding this program in his budget for 2019. Although the budget will be amended by Congress, this threat should not be taken lightly. Make no mistake, eliminating DCTAG would have dire consequences.
At a cost of $40 million a year, or .00001 percent of the federal budget, DCTAG represents an infinitesimally small portion of spending. Yet, to parents and students of the District, it makes all the difference. To many, it represents the difference between affording college or taking out thousands of dollars of student loans. For others, it determines whether they go to college at all. We don’t deserve more debt simply because we don’t live in a state.
Without DCTAG, DC students do not have access to reduced tuition at acclaimed public universities. In fact, the only school in DC that would qualify for in-state tuition is the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).
This is why DCTAG is so vital. Giving thousands of students the chance to go to a college beyond UDC and thousands more the ability to avoid crippling debt is essential, and we cannot stand for our right to an affordable education being ripped away. Ending this program would be catastrophic.
But hope is not lost. Mayor Muriel Bowser has already started a petition urging Congress to fund DCTAG. Sign the petition (savedctag.dc.gov) and encourage all your family and friends who have voting representatives to call on Congress to continue giving DC students the financial assistance they deserve.
GRAPHIC BY MIKE DORROS