Democrats Unveil Bill to Restore Pell Grant Eligibility for Defrauded Students

By Stephen Payne, Policy & Federal Relations Staff

On Wednesday, Sen. Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Scott (D-VA) introduced the Pell Grant Restoration Act of 2015. The bill would provide students who have attended a fraudulent institution to reset their Pell Grant lifetime eligibility under certain circumstances.

Under this measure, Pell Grant eligibility would be restored for students who have had their student loans discharged through compromise and settlement authority, defenses to repayment, or statutory discharges or for students who would qualify under these provisions if they had taken out a federal student loan, according to a fact sheet.

With 48 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and seven co-sponsors in the Senate, the bill enjoys large support; however, no Republicans have signed-on to the bill thus far. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also offered his support for the measure.

In a press release after the bill’s introduction, the House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Scott (D-VA) said, “For too long, some educational institutions have engaged in activities that leave students financially and academically vulnerable. The time that students invest in their studies can never be replaced, but the Pell Restoration Act gives students a renewed opportunity to continue their education without the burden of lost aid.”

Sen. Durbin (D-IL), a fervent critic of the for-profit sector and a co-sponsor of this legislation, said, “In spite of the warning signs, the federal government did not step in soon enough to prevent Pell Grant funding from being wasted on the failed Corinthian Colleges system. It is only fair that the students who were misled into failing programs have their Pell Grant eligibility restored,” he continued.

The National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), as well as a variety of labor, student, and veterans organizations and associations endorsed the measure and offered statements of support.

With the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee leading the charge on this legislation, it may be safe to assume that similar language may also appear among the Democrats’ Higher Education Act reauthorization proposals. Comprehensive reauthorization bills are expected to be introduced before the end of the year.


Publication Date: 9/18/2015

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