Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on Reconciliation Legislation Agreement
October 28, 2021

​​“This agreement includes higher education provisions that are important and notable accomplishments to help students and institutions. At the end of the day, a number of the things that the administration discussed are addressed and included, including an increase to the maximum Pell Grant and funding to improve college completion rates and workforce readiness. We also are pleased the legislation will repeal the taxability of Pell Grants, which will magnify the impact of the Pell increase for millions of low-income students. And we are gratified that it makes Dreamers and others eligible for federal student financial aid. Unfortunately, and to our great disappointment, many worthwhile initiatives were dropped, such as free community college, or scaled back to a much smaller level than would be needed to fundamentally alter participation in postsecondary education.

The $550 increase in the maximum Pell Grant is a meaningful expansion that will help millions of students and their families. However, the impact will be nothing like the effect that the administration intended with its proposal for a $1,475 increase—which itself is far from the president’s promise to ultimately double the maximum Pell Grant to $13,000. We also appreciate the additional support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other minority serving institutions. But, again, that is inadequate to meet the true need of these institutions and the students they serve.

We understand that reaching a final agreement was difficult and complicated, and we appreciate the increases for higher education and our students that were included. But higher education is this country’s greatest driver of social and economic mobility, and all of us must work to extend its benefits to more individuals. What has been outlined so far does not rise to the level of transformative change proposed by the president across a range of social initiatives, including to dramatically address existing inequities in higher education. We are appreciative of the support that is included in this legislation and will work closely with the administration and Congress to build on this beginning.”

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