WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s two Democratic U.S. senators say they’re fighting to protect and expand the student financial aid program named for their predecessor, Claiborne Pell.

Pell Grants have been a fixture of federal financial aid since the 1970s, helping millions of low-income students attend college annually. Former Democratic Sen. Pell was a key champion.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse spoke with about two dozen education officials about college affordability in Warwick Monday.

Reed’s office says President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018 would take $3.9 billion in surplus funding out of the Pell Grant program and reallocate it. Reed and Whitehouse sponsored legislation to expand the program.

In Connecticut, Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney also hosted an event Monday to draw attention to proposed cuts in education funding.

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