Leading organizations across higher education have teamed up to advocate for the doubling of Pell Grants by June of 2022 and created a new website dedicated to the cause.
The Double Pell Alliance’s site not only provides resources for individuals to explore the benefits of increasing the federal financial aid program but also offers a direct pipeline to contact Congress and share thoughts on social media. With enough support, the coalition—using the hashtag #doublepell—hopes leaders will act more quickly in getting assistance to students in need.
“AASCU enthusiastically supports efforts to significantly increase the purchasing power of Pell Grants and calls on Congress and the Biden administration to simultaneously protect and encourage state investments in public higher education,” said Mildred GarcÁa, President of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). “Doubling the Pell Grant in this manner would be a historic investment in the new majority of students in higher education, those who are low-income, first-generation, and/or students of color.”
Doubling the Pell Grant from its current $6,500 to $13,000 would give the nearly seven million low-to-moderate-income students who receive aid the chance to pursue postsecondary education and remain in it. Given the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic affecting families and the fact that current Pell awards don’t cover two-thirds of the costs of attending colleges and universities, the Alliance says action is necessary.
Back in March, a coalition of more than 1,200 organizations that included 900 institutions sent a letter to Congress urging the doubling of the Pell Grant. That was quickly follow by the reintroduction of the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, which also would provide aid for DREAMers, assist underachieving students in maintaining GPAs to stay in the program and reinstate lifetime eligibility for nontraditional students to 18 semesters.
If approved, the Preservation and Expansion Act would get recipients to that $13,000 finish line but not for a number of years. The current proposal, submitted by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Sens. Mazie Hirono and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would only allot an extra $1,475 in relief to students by 2022-23. Grant awards would jump to $9,000 in 2023-24 but not hit the final target until 2027-28.
President Joe Biden and Democrat leaders have been staunch supporters of Pell Grant increases since his election campaign began, though it is unclear how much backing Republicans have for the current proposal. The Alliance’s campaign hopes to get those on the fence to consider the change. The new website already includes voices of those who can or will be helped by Pell increases. Almost 90% of students who receive Pell aid come from families that earn $50,000 or less, and more than half of students of color across the U.S. receive them. Two-dozen organizations have lent support, including:
- ACPA—College Student Educators International
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
- American Association of Community Colleges
- American Association of State Colleges and Universities
- American Council on Education
- American Indian Higher Education Consortium
- Association of American Medical Colleges
- Association of American Universities
- Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
- Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
- Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
- Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
- Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
- Council for Opportunity in Education
- Council of Independent Colleges
- Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
- NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
- National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
- National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
- National Collegiate Athletic Association
- State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
- Student Aid Alliance