NAICU Washington Update

House Committee Focuses on Future of the Pell Grant

July 30, 2021

The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment of the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing to examine the impact of the Pell Grant on providing access to higher education for low- and moderate-income students, student success, and how federal legislation can help keep the promise of the nearly 50-year-old program.  

The hearing was led by full Committee Chair, Bobby Scott (D-VA) who emphasized the importance of investing in the Pell Grant program and highlighted a bill that he co-sponsored with Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) called the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act. Their bill seeks to double the Pell Grant by academic year 2027-2028, among other improvements. Ranking Member Greg Murphy (R-NC) also discussed the importance of the Pell Grant but highlighted his belief that institutions are the major beneficiaries of the Pell Grant program and that institutions are able to continue to raise their prices by the amount that the federal government pours into the student aid programs. 

The witnesses for the hearing included Dr. Justin Ortagus at the University of Florida; Dr. Robert J. Jones at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Dr. Michael B. Poliakoff at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni; and Ms. Darleny Suriel at the City College of New York. The democrat‘s witnesses shared their personal histories with the Pell Grant program, why the program is important, how it benefits students, and the need for further investment. The republican’s witness, Dr. Poliakoff, emphasized the importance of students being able to pursue postsecondary education using pathways other than through the traditional 4-year degree. He also expressed a belief that college prices are rising because students have access to federal student aid. Republican Members of Congress echoed these same sentiments throughout the hearing. 

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