Third Way Statement on the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act
WASHINGTON – Third Way issued the following statement from Lanae Erickson, Senior Vice President for Social Policy & Politics:
“The Pell Grant program is the foundation of our federal investment in student financial aid, helping more than seven million low- and moderate-income students access higher education each year, including 60% of Black and 50% of Latino undergraduates. Yet as college has become more and more expensive, the size of students’ Pell awards has not kept pace: in the 1970s, the maximum grant covered more than three-quarters of the cost of attendance at a public four-year college, while today it covers less than one-third.
“This steep decline in the purchasing power of Pell harms educational opportunity for students with the greatest financial need—and as the nation rebuilds from the impacts of COVID-19, it’s past time to reinvest in our students and their futures. We believe the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI), and House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA), takes significant and meaningful strides toward restoring the promise of Pell Grants and sustaining the program for the next generation.
“We are deeply heartened to see a clear commitment to doubling the maximum Pell Grant to $13,000 over a period of five years, a priority laid out in President Biden’s higher education plan and supported by Third Way and more than 300 other organizations and 900 institutions of higher education. Doubling Pell represents a critical step in ensuring the program’s ongoing stability and reach. As a first-generation college graduate who would not have been able to attend without a Pell Grant, I know the impact this will have on today’s students firsthand.
“We are also pleased to see provisions in this bill that will extend Pell Grant eligibility to DREAMers; expand access to aid for part-time students, students and families on federal benefit programs, and students who need additional time to complete their studies; and safeguard the Pell Grant program from the risk of shortfalls by shifting to fully mandatory funding.
“At a moment in which the importance of our higher education system in individuals’ social mobility and the nation’s economic recovery looms large, the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act sends a clear message to low-income students and students of color that the federal government will continue to support and invest in their success. We commend the bill’s introduction and encourage Members of Congress from both parties to join in support of this legislation and in further work to increase college access and affordability for all students.”