NAICU Washington Update

Congress to Vote on Additional Pell Grant Increase

November 06, 2007

House and Senate conferees on student aid funding have approved a $125 increase to the Pell Grant maximum. When added to the $490 increase in September's budget reconciliation act, this would mean a $615 total increase in the maximum grant - the largest annual increase in the history of the Pell Grant program. The new maximum grant would be $4,925 for the 2008-09 academic year.

The Pell Grant increase, approved November 1, is included in FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, to be voted on in both chambers this week, but still must navigate tricky political waters.

Congressional leadership has decided to package the bill containing the Pell Grant increase with the Military Construction/Veterans' Administration funding bill. The president would like veterans' funding passed by Veterans' Day, and Congress would like him to sign the education and health bill.

President Bush has publicly said that if the bills were sent to him separately, he would sign the Military Construction/VA bill, and veto the Labor-HHS-Education bill. Now, because the two have been bundled, he has said he plans to veto the package. The hope of proponents is that pressure from veterans, education, health, and labor groups will persuade the president to sign the packaged bills.

Beyond the political maneuvering, the underlying education funding bill represents a win for student aid. If the House and Senate pass the conference report on the bill with a veto-proof margin, student aid will be increased. If not, further budget negotiations could actually result in the base appropriated Pell Grant maximum falling below its current level.

MORE News from NAICU