Press Release/Statement | June 16, 2021

TICAS Applauds Introduction of Landmark Pell Grant Legislation

Author: Statement of Jessica Thompson

“We applaud Sen. Mazie Hirono, Rep. Mark Pocan, Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray, and House Education & Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott for proposing historic investments to strengthen and improve the longstanding federal Pell Grant program.

“Introduced today, the Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act of 2021 would make college more affordable and accessible for millions of students and help drive an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pell Grants, which help nearly seven million low- and moderate-income students attend and complete college annually, are the federal government’s foundational investment in college affordability. They are especially critical for students of color, with nearly 60 percent of Black students, half of American Indian or Alaska Native students, and nearly half of Latinx students receiving a Pell Grant each year.

“However, the share of college costs covered by the grant is at an all-time low, and Pell Grant recipients continue to bear greater student debt burdens than their higher-income peers.

“This bill would make long overdue and critically needed investments in the Pell Grant program by doubling the maximum award, permanently indexing the grant to inflation, shifting the program fully to mandatory funding, and expanding Pell access to DREAMers.

“The bill would also improve the program by reforming overly burdensome satisfactory academic progress requirements; providing additional targeted assistance to students who receive a means-tested federal benefit; reinstating lifetime Pell eligibility to 18 semesters; and broadening Pell access for part-time students.

“Taken together, these policies will strengthen and secure the Pell Grant program for generations to come. President Biden has also prioritized Pell Grant investments in his fiscal year 2022 budget proposal and his American Families Plan. We urge lawmakers to enact this landmark bill as expeditiously as possible.”