Davis, Scott, Hirono, Murray Introduce Major Legislation to Secure Pell Grant Program and Make College More Affordable for Low-Income Students

The Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act helps students offset the rising costs of college by permanently indexing Pell Grants to inflation, increasing its purchasing power

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Representatives Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va), and Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act today that will expand and permanently safeguard the Pell Grant program, helping millions of low-income students offset the rising costs of college. The bill would improve the purchasing power of Pell Grants, permanently index the maximum grant to inflation, shift the Pell Grant program to fully mandatory funding, and restore eligibility for defrauded students.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that all students have access to a quality education without the fear of a lifetime of debt,” said Representative Davis. “I’m thrilled to introduce this comprehensive legislation, with Ranking Member Scott and Senators Hirono and Murray, aimed at making the Pell program more sustainable. This bill will increase the purchasing power of the Pell grant and give low-income students access to the education they need to get to the middle-class and beyond.”

“The Pell Grant is the most important tool we have to help low-income students afford higher education, but for too long Congress has neglected students by allowing the purchasing power of Pell Grants to erode over time,” said Representative Scott. “By reversing prior eligibility cuts and ensuring stable funding for a larger Pell Grant, the Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act will help millions of students reach their potential without being forced to take on excessive debt. This bill is one of several initiatives House Democrats have proposed as part of the legislative campaign, Aim Higher, to make higher education work for all students.”

The Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act also extends the program to DREAMers and restores eligibility to incarcerated individuals, encouraging them to support themselves and their families, upon release. The bill also increases support for working students, expands eligibility to short-term job training programs of high quality, and increases Pell Grant eligibility to 14 semesters to give non-traditional students more flexibility to complete their degrees.

 “Last year, more than 20,000 Hawaii students received financial support through the federal Pell Grant program,” said Senator Hirono. “However, much work remains to ensure that more students receive a meaningful Pell Grant award. This bill increases the maximum award for low-income students, makes sure that awards keep pace with inflation, and makes other improvements to the program so that Pell Grants can continue to make college more affordable for students. I thank Senator Murray for her support of this effort.”

“Earning a college degree is the key to opportunity for so many low-income students, but far too many students must take on massive amounts of debt just to get the skills and education they need to get a good job with a decent living,” said Senator Murray. “I am proud to introduce this legislation to expand the Pell Grant program and give the eight million students currently receiving Pell Grants some additional needed stability and security. As a recipient of Pell Grants myself, I know firsthand the danger of President Trump’s vision for slashing student aid.  Instead, I will keep fighting to make college more affordable for students across the country.”

The bill also incorporates priorities from other Members of Congress, and is cosponsored by Representatives Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), and Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

The text of the Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act can be found HERE.

Fact sheet on the Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act can be found HERE

Press Contact

Arika Trim: 202-226-0853 (Scott)
Aaron Hunter: 202-225-2040 (Davis)
Will Dempster: 202-224- 9813 (Hirono)
Mairead Lynn: 202-224-5398 (Murray)