By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter
NASFAA joined several other higher education organizations in a letter urging members of Congress to keep student aid funding a high priority during the fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations process.
The letter — which represents more than two dozen organizations that together form the Student Aid Alliance — was sent to Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), leaders of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees that oversee education funding.
In the letter, the organizations thanked the congressional leaders for the increases provided for the student aid programs in the FY 2023 omnibus bill and asked them to continue “the tradition of strong bipartisan support” for federal student aid as the two subcommittees work on the FY 2024 appropriations process.
“While the country transitions away from the pandemic, students continue to feel the effects of an unsettled economy,” the letter stated. “To help our nation’s college students persist in their education, we call on Congress to make bold investments in the federal student aid programs. The most direct way to improve college affordability is to enhance and expand proven, successful programs.”
Earlier in March, President Joe Biden released his proposal for FY 2024 budget, which included plans to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $820, provide more funding for the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), and expand access to free community college.
The organizations requested the congressional leaders to increase funding for several federal student aid programs, including the Federal Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), TRIO, GEAR UP, and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) programs. Specifically, the organizations said that the maximum Pell Grant award should be increased to $13,000 in order to enable more low-income students to afford college.
“A maximum Pell Grant of $13,000 would restore much of the purchasing power the grant had in FY 1975, when the maximum Pell award covered 78 percent of the cost of attendance at a four-year public college,” the letter stated. “It now covers just 28 percent. While students use Pell Grants at all public and private nonprofit colleges and universities, the purchasing power at a four-year public university has historically been the benchmark for its value.”
Additionally, the organizations asked Congress to increase funding for campus-based aid programs, including the SEOG program receiving $1.115 billion and FWS program receiving $1.555 billion. TRIO’s budget should also be increased to $1.298 billion, the organizations argued, in order to ensure that low-income students, first-generation students, and students with disabilities successfully enroll and graduate from postsecondary programs.
The GEAR UP program should be funded at $410 million, the groups argued, which would bring approximately 40,000 new students into the program. The groups also pressed for the GAANN program to have its budget increased to $35 million to “reflect the need for increased investment” to offer support to students studying in fields directly related to American competitiveness.
“Without the strong partnership between the federal government, states, institutions, and families, millions of students would not be able to go to college,” the letter states. “We call on Congress to continue its bipartisan support of federal student aid programs — which combine grants, work-study, and loan programs — to enable low- and middle-income students to succeed.”
Publication Date: 4/5/2023
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