Federal budget crisis threatens USU program for at-risk students

LOGAN—The federal budget crunch could soon affect low-income and first-generation students at Utah State University, the director of the school’s Student Support Services (SSS) program said Tuesday.Student Support Services, USU’s only federally funded TRIO program, already had been cut 3.1 percent of its budget for 2011-2012, and is fighting to keep its doors open amid a major deficit reduction move by Washington.”Congress needs to save a little money for the young people,” said Nazih Al-Rashid, USU’s SSS director.The office is funded yearly by the U.S. Department of Education, so its budget is very sensitive to economic trends. The Budget Control Act of 2011, signed by President Barack Obama to break the congressional budget deficit impasse in August, creates a 12-member “Super Committee” to reduce deficit spending. The committee’s first target is to cut $1.2 trillion by Nov. 23.And Al-Rashid fears where those cuts might come. “They can cut whatever they want,” he said, explaining that education programs are often among the first things to go.

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