Pell Grants To Be Doubled By Biden Administration

By Erika Hanson | Published

Biden on Pell Grant increase

The President had quite the plateful of topics to discuss last night during his first State of the Union address. With the economy being at the forefront of issues, Biden put a focus on rejuvenating the workforce through new and increased initiatives. On one spectrum, President Biden spoke on an initiative to bolster apprenticeship programs and create a workforce focused on skills-based training rather than college degrees. But on the other hand, Biden pledged sweeping higher education reforms, including the highly praised increase that could double the Pell Grant.

In a move that received endless praise from higher education organizations, President Biden called on Congress last night to increase the maximum pell grant amount by more than $2 thousand. Currently, the cap sits at $6,495. If passed, the hefty increase would be historic, as the grants increase have generally remained balanced over the years while tending to only be raised by a hundred dollars or so each time. 

To further understand the importance of the alleged increase, it’s important to understand who Pell Grants benefit. Created within the Higher Education Act of 1965, a pell grant is a subsidy to the U.S. federal government. The grant is limited to students with financial needs who are striving to attain a bachelor’s degree or post-baccalaureate programs within participating institutions. Unlike student loans, Pell Grants typically do not have to be repaid.

biden on pell grant increase

During his speech Tuesday night, President Biden made note that over 6 million students across the nation depend on Pell grants to finance their continued education. However, Biden also made note that the money allotted in the grant program has not kept pace with the exceeding rising costs of a college education. Furthermore, the White House has also indicated support for students protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to have access to Pell Grants. DACA refers to an immigration policy that allows immigrant children unlawfully in the nation to remain for a period of time without deportation. 

Doubling down on the notion to bring pell grants to further reaching communities, Biden also pledged continued support for community colleges along with the nation’s Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Delighted with the notion of increased Pell Grant allowances, the heads of some of the nation’s biggest HBCUs spoke out regarding the pledged increase. Dr. Michael L Lomax, who is the president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, reiterated that the UNCF has long aligned with the White House to formulate these “tasks”. “I applaud the president for including both HBCUs and a Pell Grant increase in his State of the Union address, and I hope both items will be championed by both sides of the aisle,” Lomax said.

“This is historic,” said Lodriguez V. Murray, senior vice president for public policy and government affairs at UNCF. “For the president of the United States to not only mention HBCUs in his State of the Union address, but to call for increased funding along with joining our effort to increase, and hopefully soon double the Pell Grant, is something we cannot help but be excited about. Furthermore, Murray reiterated how “rare” it is to hear a President claim HBCUs as a top priority. 

pell grants help college students

Other higher education organizations also praised Biden.  Dr. Jason Altmire, president of the Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) stated that the increased Pell Grant allotment would aid “millions” of low-income students. Brining one student’s story to the forefront of the matter, Altmire called attention to students like Desrine Prayer: a single parent working full time while studying to become a nurse. As one of the Pell Grant recipients attending a for-profit school, Prayer was the perfect case study to depict the type of students the proposed increase would benefit.