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NJ higher education leaders call on Congress to double maximum Pell Grant

A doubled maximum Pell Grant would cover one year of tuition for most Rutgers students. – Photo by Matan Dubnikov

University President Jonathan Holloway recently co-signed a letter with 43 other New Jersey higher education leaders calling for Congress members to double the maximum Pell grant award from $6,495 to $13,000 as they vote on a budget reconciliation bill, according to an article from Rutgers Today.

More than 150,000 students from New Jersey receive Pell Grants per year, which provide $91 million annually for 18,000 Rutgers students, according to the article.

The grants covered almost 80 percent of costs for students at a public four-year college when first enacted but now cover less than 30 percent, according to the letter.

“It is time for a dramatic recalibration of this vital program to restore the promise of Pell to make college possible for the next generation of post-secondary students,” higher education leaders said in the letter.

University and community college leaders said more students from low and middle-income households would be able to attend college with this change, rather than concluding they cannot afford higher education and not applying for the grant, according to the letter.

A $13,000 Pell Grant would cover tuition, fees and other costs at public community colleges and would cover one year of tuition for the average Rutgers student, according to the article.

“We believe that, among many thoughtful proposals for increasing access to higher education, doubling the maximum Pell Grant award should be the foundation upon which other efforts can be built,” higher education leaders said. “Pell is a proven program, and in combination with other federal aid, state aid and institutional grants, has provided millions of low-income students a wide array of post-secondary opportunities at both two and four-year colleges and universities.”

If Congress were to double the maximum for the Pell Grant, it would be the largest investment for federal student aid in decades, according to the article. 

The $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, titled the Build Back Better Act, would provide an additional $80 billion for Pell Grants as well as two years of free community college for students of all incomes, according to an article from CBS News. Its passage is currently stalled in the Senate.

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