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Proposed bill would increase value of Pell Grants

A new bill proposed in the United States Congress would increase the value of a popular federal financial aid program.

The Senate today is considering a proposal that would increase Pell Grants by 1.7 percent, reports Inside Higher Ed. 

The increase, which would be funded by drawing on the program’s reserves, would enlarge the grants by $100, for a total value of $6,020. This would be the first time the value of Pell Grants have been increased in a decade.

The bill nevertheless takes about $2.6 billion from the grant’s reserves. “While we are very disappointed and concerned to see an additional $2.6 billion cut to Pell Grants in this bill,” said the pro-student-aid Institute for College Access and Success, “we praise both Senator [Roy] Blunt [of Missouri] and Senator [Patty] Murray [of Washington] for committing to work to reduce it through an ultimate congressional [fiscal year 2018] spending agreement that increases overall discretionary funding levels.”

In recent years colleges have struggled with low numbers of Pell Grant recipients, most notably at elite universities. Pell Grants, like all subsidized federal student aid, have been found to drive up the cost of tuition.

The Department of Education recently re-instituted “year-round Pell Grants” so that summer students could have access to the federal financial aid program. The year-round program has been criticized in the past for its high cost of compliance, which further drives up the overall cost of financial aid itself.

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