ACE and 33 other higher education groups sent a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders expressing strong support for restoring year-round Pell Grants in any spending bill they devise for the rest of FY 2017.
Before going on its pre-election break at the end of September, Congress hammered out an agreement to fund the federal government from Oct. 1 to Dec. 9. When lawmakers return after the election for the lame-duck session, they must pass a spending bill for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2017.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees both approved bills over the summer to fund Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies for FY 2017. Both measures provide sufficient funding to allow for the scheduled increase in the maximum Pell Grant in 2017-18, which is $5,935. But only the Senate bill reinstates year-round Pell Grants, which were eliminated due to cost in 2011. The Senate bill also provides additional funding to award grants to one million more students.
Both bills take funding from a surplus in the Pell Grant Program to pay for other priorities. The letter expressed the groups belief that this surplus should remain within the program to fund initiatives such as year-round grants.
“Encouraging all eligible students—no matter their credit accumulation or enrollment intensity—to attend college year-round will expedite time-to-degree, significantly lower opportunity costs, and allow more rapid entry into the workforce. The language in the Senate bill achieves these ends,” the groups wrote. “It would therefore be entirely fitting to use the available surplus funding to restore this crucial benefit to needy students and return dividends to the nation in the form of accelerated degree attainment across sectors.”