Student Aid Funding

NAICU supports increased federal funding for the proven student aid programs, which work together to ensure that qualified low- and middle-income students who are prepared for college have the same opportunity to get into, persist, and complete college as students with greater resources.

NAICU advocates for the funding of the Pell Grant program, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), LEAP state partnership grants, TRIO, GEAR UP, and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN).

NAICU and the American Council on Education (ACE) co-chair the Student Aid Alliance, which brings together more than 80 organizations representing students, financial aid officers, colleges, and others who support student aid. Together, the Alliance proposes a FY 2021 Appropriations Request that would increase the Pell Grant maximum to $7,000, provide inflation increases for SEOG, FWS, TRIO and GEAR UP, reinstate LEAP state grants, and continue support for graduate education in the humanities.  


The federal student aid programs have enjoyed bipartisan support for decades. Currently, the federal government provides $130 billion in student loans, grants, and work study each year to help more than 11 million students pay for college.

NAICU has supported federal funding for student aid since its inception in 1976; and the Student Aid Alliance has been successful in turning massive proposed cuts to student aid into program increases since 1994.

Status of FY 2021 Student Aid Funding

The president’s FY 2021 budget request for the Department of Education proposes cuts to the student aid programs similar to his previous proposals. While each year Congress has rejected these proposals, the administration proposes to cut student loan funds by $170 billion over 10 years, and the annually appropriated student aid programs by $2 billion.

In July, the House passed its education funding bill with a $150 increase in the Pell Grant maximum, raising the maxium award to $6,495.  The bill also contained modest increases in the other student aid programs.  The Senate is not expected to take action on regular appropriations bills until after negotiations on another pandemic relief bill are finalized. 

Status of FY 2020 Student Aid Funding

The December, 2019 year-end spending bill included funding increases for the student aid programs for the 2020-2021 award year:
  • Maximum Pell Grant award increased by $150, to $6,345.
  • SEOG increased by $23 million, to $865 million.
  • FWS increased by $50 million, to $1.2 billion.
  • TRIO increased by $30 million, to $1.1 billion.
  • GEAR UP increased by $5 million, to $365 million.

While it was not increased, GAANN was level-funded at $23 million.

What You Can Do

College presidents are one of the most respected voices heard by Members of Congress.
  • Use your NAICU Student Aid Data Sheet to show how federal funding helps students at your school.
  • Bring a student or student story with you when you meet with your congressional representatives.
  • Activate the #SaveStudentAid campaign on your campus to get more voices supporting student aid funding. Twitter and Facebook can be used to share the message.

NAICU Contacts