In response to annual hikes in college tuition despite the absence of corresponding increases in income, dependence on student financial aid has skyrocketed. However, the government has had trouble filling the expanding gap between expenses and resources for students in need. As a result, U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Norm Coleman (R-MN), and Russ Feingold (D-WI) are lobbying to make higher education more affordable for those who qualify for Pell Grants.
In a bipartisan letter, the senators urged Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman to raise the current maximum Pell Grant award of $4,050. No Pell Grant increases have occurred for the past half decade. Since the maximum Pell Grant amount hasn't risen with inflation in recent years, it subsequently doesn't carry the same weight that it once did. The cycle of lack of funds leading to post-graduate debt is a topic that can't escape the news. Now there's hope for change in the near future.
In a recent press release, Senator Kennedy spoke on the necessity of increasing the award:
"Students and families are pinching pennies and going deep into debt to afford college. Raising the maximum Pell Grant—the lifeline to college for low-income and first-generation college students—should be at the top of the nation's agenda for higher education to ensure students don't have to mortgage their futures in exchange for a college degree."
One of the most important benefits of earning a Pell Grant is that it's money toward education that does not have to be repaid. According to www.ed.gov, the Department of Education specifies that Pell Grants must be awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned bachelor's or professional degrees. (A professional degree is usually earned after a bachelor's degree in a field such as medicine, law, or dentistry.) In some cases, students receive Pell Grants for attending post-baccalaureate teaching certificate programs.
"Education is the foundation upon which the idea of equal opportunity rests. However, with tuition rates at an all-time high, many working families are finding the financial burden insurmountable," said Senator Coleman. "Pell Grants have made college more affordable and accessible to millions of students. By increasing the award amount, we can continue to make a college education a reality for many more, while strengthening our nation's ability to compete in a global economy."
The Pell Grant plays an important role in financial aid and has supported millions of students in their quests to earn college degrees. Many low-income families are hesitant to borrow money, and grants afford them assistance without the pressure of debt. Breathing new life into Pell Grant funding would create a resurgence of equal opportunities.
Senator Collins articulates the bottom line: "Pell Grants make the difference in whether students have access to higher education and a chance to participate fully in the American dream."
Article Title : Possible Pell Grant Increase
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