Related Topics in the Ref Desk: Pell Grant; Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (FSEOG); Federal Work-Study Program (FWS)
As lawmakers pivot from coronavirus relief aid to other policy priorities, NASFAA is calling on congressional leaders to use this session to double the maximum Pell Grant award to $13,000.
With leadership from both sides of the aisle looking to address higher education affordability in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, NASFAA joined a coalition of more than 1,000 higher education organizations and institutions on a letter sent to members of Congress arguing that this long overdue investment will drive economic recovery, help address racial and economic inequities in college completion rates, and increase overall educational attainment.
“Students from low- and moderate-income families are in critical need of additional grant aid to pay for college,” the letter reads. “Doubling the maximum Pell Grant — and permanently indexing the grant to inflation to ensure its value doesn’t diminish over time — will boost college enrollment, improve graduation rates, and honor the history and value of these grants as the keystone federal investment in college affordability.”
NASFAA President Justin Draeger said doubling the maximum Pell Grant award would “deliver critically needed resources to our nation’s diverse student population, particularly our lowest-income students.”
“Though this increase is long-overdue, the need for such robust federal investment in the Pell Grant program has never been greater, as students and families continue to feel the economic impact caused by the pandemic,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “We urge Congress to double the maximum Pell Grant and, in turn, support the postsecondary access and success of millions of students across the country.”
A recent survey from Inside Higher Ed found that 79% of college and university presidents back doubling the Pell Grant, citing that it would benefit students and their respective institutions.
As the congressional budget cycle for fiscal year 2022 begins, NASFAA has also joined a number of higher education organizations in calling for appropriators to maintain high funding for a number of student aid programs.
In a letter to House and Senate appropriators, the Student Aid Alliance (SAA) outlines a number of suggestions for Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Pensions — along with their respective ranking members Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — as they work through their fiscal 2022 allocations.
Aside from doubling the Pell Grant, the alliance urges appropriators to make investments in campus-based aid by funding the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) at $1.061 billion and Federal Work-Study (FWS) at $1.48 billion. In the final fiscal year 2021 package, FSEOG was funded at $880 million while FWS was funded at $1.19 billion.
The groups also call for the TRIO program to be increased to $1.3 billion, citing the economic impact of the pandemic.
“During the COVID crisis, students from high-poverty high schools had a plunge in college enrollment — nearly one third lower than the year before,” the letter reads. “Students in low-income families have been twice as likely to drop out of college as their wealthier peers during this crisis. Without TRIO’s individualized supports, we may see a lost generation of promising students.”
The alliance further urges that GEAR UP be funded at $435 million, which would bring approximately 100,000 new students into the program and increase the overall number of students served to 623,000, and that the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) be increased to $35 million to reflect the need for increased investment.
Lastly, the organizations argue that the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership grants be funded at $65 million.
“While this program has not been funded since [fiscal year] 2011, it has not been repealed, and provides a strong federal-state partnership for states to increase their efforts to support need-based financial aid,” the letter reads.
It is unclear when the appropriations process will begin in earnest, as the White House has not yet submitted a formal budget request. The administration currently plans to release its discretionary spending priorities next week, with a full budget request expected in the coming months.
Publication Date: 3/25/2021