NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Less than two months after reaching one fiscal cliff deal, another one is in the works.
And the impact could hurt young people as less federal financial aid is making it harder for students to obtain a college degree. 24-year-old Casey Shanahan lives with that reality daily. She's been in and out of school for more than six years.
"It's been a lot of things; I've transferred from a few different schools for financial reasons. I have really only been able to attend college if I get a good financial aid package," said the Pelham resident, who's looking forward to becoming a nurse.
A recent National Priorities Project report says looming cuts could make it even harder to afford school. As Congress addresses the second phase of the so-called "Fiscal Cliff," more money could be squeezed from job training programs and federal education grants.
Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, a series of across the board, automatic, spending cuts will soon go into effect; after a bi-partisan super committee failed to cut more than $1 trillion in spending. Last month's 11th hour deal will give Congress until March 1st to address these cuts.
"When we are out on the road what's happening here in western Massachusetts is happening in the South, in the North in the West," said Jo Comerford, executive director of the Northampton think tank.
Comerford says Federal Pell Grant support has dropped more than a third in the last 34 years. And federal funding for STEM fields, like engineering, math and science, could drop by $200 million before the end of the year.
"Programs that stimulate job growth for young people summer employment programs, after school programs, all the fabric, if you will, of our society; is really under current scrutiny," said Comerford inside her King Street office.
Researchers say the current jobless rate is another indicator. 16% of 16 to 24 year olds are out of a job, that's more than double the national rate. And when it comes to Latinos and African Americans, the numbers are much higher.
UMass freshman Asad Elmi says warding off the potential crisis is going to take more than filling the budget gap.
"More federal cuts for education for us would mean a higher percentage of Blacks and Latinos being out of jobs. Because now it's harder and harder to get into universities," said Elmi at Umass Amherst on Friday morning.
For a link to this report, click here .