Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants

The Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program is an important means to help low-income students finance their higher education. It is also an important partnership program, as SEOG requires institutions to supplement federal money with institutional funds to participate in the program.

The program should be expanded to become more inclusive, and to help lower student debt burdens by increasing the maximum grant for the third year and beyond from $4,000 to $7,000.

About

The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program provides financial assistance to low-income undergraduate students of exceptional need attending postsecondary education institutions. Authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act, SEOG is one of the “campus-based aid programs,” meaning it is administered by each participating postsecondary education institution. Currently institutions must match at least 33% of the funds appropriated by the federal government.

 

History

SEOG has been an integral part of the federal student aid portfolio since its inclusion in the Higher Education Act in 1972. SEOG was designed as a partner to the original Pell program (then known as the Basic Education Opportunity Grant or BEOG), to ensure supplemental grant aid for Pell students, and to ensure that institutions engaged with the federal government in providing need-based aid to low-income students.

 

Funding Status

An estimated 1.8 million students received an SEOG grant in the 2019-20 academic year. Students can receive a maximum grant of $4,000 per academic year under the current rules, although the average grant in the 2017-18 academic year was approximately $675. The program received $840 million in federal contributions for the 2019-20 academic year. Private, nonprofit colleges received 36 percent of the total federal SEOG allocation in 2017-18.
 

One Grant, One Loan and SEOG

One of the more popular policy proposals being discussed on Capitol Hill the past few years has been the idea of moving to a federal financial aid portfolio consisting of “one grant, one loan.” Assuming that the lone surviving federal grant program would be the Pell Grant—which currently receives more than 95% of all federal higher education grant funding—such a policy would mean the de facto termination of the SEOG program.
 

Proposed Formula Changes

There is a bipartisan proposal in Congress to redistribute campus-based aid funding, including SEOG, away from smaller institutions in favor of larger institutions. NAICU has argued that existing SEOG recipients should be held harmless and continue to receive their current allocations.  NAICU has also argued that additional funds should not be distributed based on the size of the institution but rather the proportion of Pell Grant recipients it serves.

In the News

What You Can Do

In conversations with your Senators, Representatives, and their staffs:
  • Stress the positive impact that SEOG has on college access and persistence for low-income students on your campus.
  • Highlight the campus-based nature of SEOG. Many Members of Congress are not aware of the differences between campus-based and non-campus-based programs. Such an explanation could offer important support for efforts to preserve and expand the other campus-based programs (Perkins Loans and Federal Work Study).
  • Thank them for their past support and advocate for sustained funding.

NAICU Contact

Tim Powers: Tim@NAICU.edu
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