Statement of Jessica Thompson, policy and research director, TICAS:
“Today, Representatives Susan Davis (D-CA) and Bobby C. Scott (D-VA), and Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Patty Murray (D-WA), introduced the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act. The bill would increase college affordability and access by securing, improving and expanding the Pell Grant, which is the federal government’s most effective investment in higher education. Congress just cut $1.3B from Pell Grants for FY2017, and the President and House Republicans are proposing to cut billions more in FY2018. In stark contrast, these legislators are providing the leadership we need for students and families struggling to pay for college.
“Each year, more than 7.5 million students rely on Pell Grants to afford college. Yet, the current maximum grant covers the lowest share of public college costs in over 40 years, and will lose its annual inflation adjustment after this year. Boosting the purchasing power of the grant and permanently indexing it to inflation to prevent additional erosion of its value are investments we know are critical to increasing college access and success. The bill includes these and other important improvements that TICAS has called for, including extending the lifetime eligibility limit for Pell Grants, resetting eligibility for students defrauded by their schools, and making Pell Grants a mandatory program to guarantee sufficient annual funding and eliminate any uncertainty for students.
“We thank Representatives Davis and Scott, and Senators Hirono and Murray for their longstanding and continued leadership on college affordability, and Pell Grants specifically. Pell Grant recipients are already more than twice as likely to borrow to attend and complete college, and leave school with significantly more debt than their higher income peers. As college costs and student debt continue to rise, we urge Congress and the Administration to work together on making the Pell Grant program, the cornerstone of federal financial aid, work even better for America’s students and the American economy rather than debating how to cut it.”