NAICU Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Pell Grant Program

June 22, 2022

On June 23, 1972, the Education Amendments Act of 1972 was signed by President Richard M. Nixon. These amendments created the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, later named the Pell Grant in honor of its sponsor, Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island.
NAICU President Barbara K. Mistick, D.M. issued the following statement on the eve of this golden anniversary:
“Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pell Grant, a critical federal student aid program that has provided a pathway to higher education for 80 million students nationwide.  In advocating for his legislation 50 years ago, Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI) said: ‘This is very important legislation, for it’s through this Act that the dream of access, and opportunity for college education becomes a reality.’
“Currently, the Pell Grant helps nearly 7 million students access a higher education and is a proven program that enjoys strong bipartisan support among Americans and policy makers alike. The pandemic, however, has pulled the rug out from under low-income students. Since the pandemic began, college enrollment is down 13% across higher education, and financial aid applications are down 6% for low-income students. We are on the cusp of losing a generation of students.
“The Pell Grant program remains the fairest and most efficient way to help low-income and first-generation students access and complete college and enter the workforce. However, additional grant aid is needed. That is why we support doubling the Pell Grant maximum award to $13,000, which President Joe Biden also supports.  If the Pell Grant is doubled, not only will current students receive increased grants, but the pool of eligible students will grow, providing more working-class students access to aid.
“Doubling Pell will put more money in the hands of students first and allow them to use it at the college or training program that best fits their educational needs. However, the president’s proposal would not double the current Pell Grant amount until 2029.
“So, on this day marking 50 years of the Pell Grant, we celebrate the impact it has had on so many students and families but also highlight the continued work that must be undertaken to ensure that the maximum award is increased as quickly as possible, putting these expanded resources in the hands of students sooner rather than later.”
Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

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