NASFAA Statement on 50th Anniversary of Federal Pell Grant Program

Millions of students have benefitted from the grant program — and doubling the maximum award will help countless more. 

Contact: Erin Powers
Director of Marketing & Communications
(202) 785-6959
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WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 23, 2022 — Fifty years ago today, President Richard Nixon signed the Education Amendments Act of 1972, creating the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, later named the Pell Grant in honor of its sponsor Sen. Claiborne Pell. Today the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) joins the higher education community in celebrating the history of the Pell Grant program and urging policymakers to rectify years of deferred investment by doubling the maximum award.

NASFAA President Justin Draeger issued the following statement: 

"Over the last five decades, the federal Pell Grant program has opened the doors to higher education for more than 100 million students who otherwise may have forgone attending college, becoming the building block for federal financial aid to students. 

This critical investment for our country’s students is not only well-targeted, funneling 90% of all Pell dollars to students with a family income below $50,000, but also boosts college enrollment and helps students continue with their studies. As we celebrate the success of this foundational student aid program, we call on lawmakers to reinvest in the promise of an affordable college education. 

Just 20 years ago, the maximum Pell Grant covered nearly 100% of students’ tuition and fees at public institutions, but its purchasing power has drastically plummeted in recent years, declining more than one-third at public institutions. 

We applaud steps taken to increase the maximum award, but more will be needed if we are to hold true to the promise that no qualified student be denied access to a quality postsecondary education. 

Doubling the maximum Pell Grant award to $13,000 would help more students earn a degree, get a good-paying job, and achieve a brighter future. Not just that — it’s a smart, sustainable solution to college affordability issues that is widely popular among voters

We urge Congress and the Biden administration to work together to restore the promise of the federal Pell Grant program for another 50 years and beyond.”


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 32,000 financial aid professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, DC, NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. 

Publication Date: 6/23/2022

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