DeFazio, Blumenauer and Bonamici join colleagues in urging Congress to double the Pell Grant

On April 27, U.S. Reps Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, and Suzanne Bonamici from Oregon joined 111 of their U.S. House colleagues in signing a letter asking for a significant increase in investment of the Federal Pell Grant in Fiscal Year 2023.

The letter, addressed to leaders of the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, requests that the maximum individual award be increased to $12,990, which is nearly double the current maximum award. The letter also asks for indexing the maximum award amount to inflation and ensuring that funding for the program is mandatory, rather than discretionary, ensuring that financial support for the program will be insulated from market changes or budget shortfalls.

The letter explains why the increase is needed by saying “Despite being the cornerstone of our nation’s student financial aid system, Pell Grants today cover less than one-third of the average cost of attendance at a public four-year university, which is the lowest share of tuition in the program’s history. Increased tuition costs, as well expenses like textbooks, housing, food, and transportation, have drastically diminished Pell’s purchasing power. This places greater strain on the students and families that the program was designed to help. At the current level, students from families earning $30,000 or less need to spend more than 75 percent of their total income to cover the cost of a four-year college, and 50 percent of their annual income for a two-year college. Doubling the maximum Pell Grant will significantly increase the award’s purchasing power, thus ensuring it will truly benefit the students and families that need it most.”

The letter also mentions widespread support from more than 1,200 education and public interest organizations.

As reported previously, President Biden’s FY23 budget proposal includes a recommendation to double the maximum Pell Grant by 2029, beginning with a $1,775 increase over the enacted FY22 level, setting the maximum Pell Grant award of $8,670 for award year 2023-24.

In early Marchl current students and graduates from UO and Oregon State University came together for a Double Pell advocacy day, meeting virtually with the entire Oregon delegation and their staff.