#DoublePell Bill Would Put College Within Reach for Millions of Students
June 21, 2021

​​Lawmakers in the House and Senate last week introduced legislation to double the Pell Grant, expand eligibility for the program to Dreamers, and make a number of other changes to the program.

The Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, introduced by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in the Senate and Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) in the House, would double the maximum grant to $13,000 over five years and shift funding for the program to fully mandatory. Currently, Pell funding is a mix of mandatory and discretionary funding, which means it is never stable.

ACE President Ted Mitchell praised the bill in a statement Wednesday.

“Nearly 90 percent of Pell Grant dollars go to students with a family income below $50,000, and they are especially critical for students of color,” Mitchell said. “Pell Grants help nearly seven million low- and moderate-income students attend and complete college annually, but the purchasing power of the grant is at an all-time low. Nearly 50 years ago, the maximum grant covered more than three-quarters of the cost of attending a four-year public college. Now, thanks to state budget cuts, it covers less than one-third of that cost.”

A broad coalition of nearly 1,200 organizations, including almost 900 colleges and universities, sent a letter to Congress in March requesting that lawmakers double the Pell Grant. ACE and other higher education associations also made the request part of a larger list of priorities to congressional appropriators.

The Biden administration has asked for a $400 increase in the maximum Pell Grant in their FY 2022 budget along with an additional $1,400 increase in one of their infrastructure proposals.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona presented the president’s budget at a hearing by the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, where Murray also discussed the double Pell bill.

Double the Pell Grant: Read the request from nearly 1,200 organizations

Download the letter​​​