“It’s time to double the maximum Pell Grant award,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “A lack of investment in the Pell program has diminished the buying power of Pell Grants, which allow millions of students to attend college each year. Doubling the maximum award wouldn’t just help increase college access, completion, and equity. It is key to achieving a more just society and a highly skilled workforce.”
Read the full letter below.
Dear Members of Congress:
On behalf of nearly 1,200 organizations, including nearly 900 colleges and universities, we urge you to bring an affordable, high-quality college education within reach for all students by doubling the maximum Pell Grant. This long overdue investment will drive economic recovery, help address racial and economic inequities in college completion rates, and increase overall educational attainment.
The Pell Grant program is the nation’s foundational investment in higher education. Pell Grants help nearly seven million low- and moderate-income students attend and complete college annually. Students from all 50 states and all corners of the country — from rural areas to cities to everywhere in between — rely on the Pell Grant program to build their future. Pell Grants are especially critical for students of color, with nearly 60 percent of Black students, half of American Indian or Alaska Native students, and nearly half of Latinx students receiving a Pell Grant each year.
However, the share of college costs covered by the grant is at an all-time low. At its peak, the maximum grant covered three-quarters of the cost of attending a four-year public college. Now, it covers less than one-third of that cost.
Unsurprisingly, Pell Grant recipients continue to bear disproportionate student debt burdens. Pell Grant recipients today are more than twice as likely as other students to have student loans, and grant recipients who borrow graduate with over $4,500 more debt than their higher-income peers.
Students from low- and moderate-income families are in critical need of additional grant aid to pay for college. Doubling the maximum Pell Grant — and permanently indexing the grant to inflation to ensure its value doesn’t diminish over time — will boost college enrollment, improve graduation rates, and honor the history and value of these grants as the keystone federal investment in college affordability.