NAICU President's Statement on the Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act of 2021

June 16, 2021

Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced today the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act of 2021, which would double the Pell Grant over a period of five years.  In materials provided by the lawmakers, they stated that as the economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19 “we must solidify the investment in students and families and advance a more equitable economic future for the next generation.” 
NAICU President Barbara Mistick, D.M. released the following statement regarding the proposed bill:
“Doubling the Pell Grant maximum from $6,495 to $13,000 is the single most important step Congress can take to make access to college possible for all students. Pell Grants are a proven bipartisan program and the fairest and most efficient way to help low-income and first-generation students access and complete college. Additional grant aid helps keep low-income students in college and on track to graduation.
“As we attempt to bring America back to strong and sustainable economic growth, doubling Pell Grants is one of the most effective and immediate tools that policy makers can use to accelerate economic recovery.
“I applaud the work Senators Hirono and Murray and Representatives Pocan and Scott have put into crafting this legislation and the focus they have put on students and families. Currently, there are more than 1.1 million students at private, nonprofit colleges and universities who receive Pell Grants each year (38% of students at private, nonprofit colleges are Pell Grant recipients, similar to the 40% at 4-year state institutions). This support provides nearly $5 billion to help them attend and complete college.

“While this legislation is an important step, I challenge Congress to work to double the Pell Grant more quickly so families who are recovering from the pandemic can take advantage of this essential assistance.  Ideally, Congress should double the Pell Grant by June of 2022, which is the 50th anniversary of the program.

“I’d also like to applaud the bill sponsors for proposing that a mandatory funding stream be provided, along with an automatic increase against the Consumer Price Index, so low-income families can be assured that their grants will be available when they need them to use at the college or university that best meets their educational goals.  This proposal will allow schools and communities to help students start to plan for college in middle school or earlier.
“Finally, I’d like to highlight a provision that gives up to an additional $1,500 boost in the Pell Grant to the lowest income families.  Any expansion of the Pell Grant program needs to first consider the needs of the lowest income families. This innovative approach will target those who need the funding the most.
Doubling the Pell Grant is NAICU’s number one legislative priority and we appreciate the long-standing bipartisan support from Congress for the program, which serves as the cornerstone of federal student aid.  It is our hope that this tradition of bipartisanship will continue as Congress works to double the Pell Grant.”