New Bill Would Make Pell Grants A Mandatory Budget Item

By Staff

Senators Mazie Hirono, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse have introduced a bill that would make the Pell Grant a mandatory spending program like Social Security. It would also restore year-round Pell Grants so students finish their degrees faster. The bill, called the Pell Grant Protection Act, is supported by 23 organizations, would enable students to continue taking classes in the summer or winter and ensure that Pell Grants keep up with increases in cost of living, Hirono said.

Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX-15), the Ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee for Higher Education and Workforce Training, introduced a companion bill to the Senate’s Pell Grant Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives in an effort to preserve and expand access to Pell Grants which have not kept up with the rising college costs.

Hinojosa’s bill helps low-income students by converting Pell Grants into an automatic spending program with a cost-of-living adjustment similar to the formula used by Social Security. The bill also restores Year-Round Pell Grants, which will help students get their degrees faster. About 1 million students across the nation used Year-Round Pell Grants each year before Congress eliminated them in 2011.

“Pell Grants have become one of the most helpful and successful financial assistance programs that have made college affordable for so many students,” said Congressman Hinojosa. “In the state of Texas and across our nation many first generation college graduates, who came from low-income families, achieved their goal because of Pell Grants. I have seen thousands of successful college graduates who are thriving in our workforce and boosting our country’s economy all because they had a fair chance at higher education through Pell Grants. We want to make sure the door remains open for those who otherwise could not afford a college education.”

“In today’s competitive economy, college costs are becoming more and more prohibitive for many students,” said Senator Hirono. “I’ve met promising students who want to go to college so they can improve their futures and help their families, yet they know college is just too expensive. Pell Grants have changed the lives for countless low-income students, and the Pell Grant Protection Act will build on these critical resources for future students by enabling students to continue taking classes in the summer or winter and ensuring that Pell Grants keep up with increases in cost of living.”