Spending Bill Includes $400 Increase For Pell Grants; Increase In HBCU Funds

The $1.5 trillion spending bill that President Joe Biden signed into law last week includes a $400 increase in the maximum Pell Grant.

The increase, the largest in years, brings the maximum amount per year to $6,895.

“The $400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant — the largest increase in 10 years — is a pivotal and much-needed investment in making college affordable for today’s students,” Mamie Voight, CEO and president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, said in a statement. Voight said nearly 7 million students receive Pell Grants each year, and many are minority students.

Pell-eligible students who have already received financial aid award letters for the 2022-23 academic year will likely be sent revised letters, according to Karen McCarthy, the vice president of public policy and federal relations for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, or NASFAA. The increase will be reflected in any financial aid award letters that haven’t been sent yet.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), the Education and Labor Committee Chairman, heralded the omnibus passage, even though he and other representatives were targeting at least a $1,475 increase by 2022-23 on their way to the ultimate mission of hitting $13,000 per year for the “cornerstone of our student aid system.” One of the most significant parts of the legislation is $363 million more invested in HBCUs.

“The package provides significant investments to lower the cost of college, support vulnerable institutions of higher education, and promote pathways to rewarding careers,” Scott said. “The bill secures a notable funding increase for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions.”

The bill provides $885 million to assist historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities, and other primarily minority-serving institutions (MSIs), an increase of $96 million over FY 2021.

Notably, it also would allow HBCUs and MSIs more flexibility with how they spend COVID-19 relief aid, including “for the acquisition of real property or construction directly related to preventing, preparing for and responding to coronavirus.”

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona praised the increase in funding.

“This bipartisan move also helps make college more affordable by increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $400, which is a down payment on the President’s call to double Pell and will help more students pursue a college education and gain the skills to secure their futures,” said Cardona in a statement. “At the Department of Education, we’ll continue building on the strong foundation set forth through this funding to support the success of all students.”


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