Press Release

Statement From The Education Trust on the FY17 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Publication date: May 1, 2017

“Congress took an important step forward for equity in the FY17 omnibus appropriations bill by restoring year-round Pell Grants.

“Providing year-round Pell Grants — a policy with bipartisan support that incents completion and reduces college costs for low-income students — recognizes the needs of today’s students and gives them a critical tool to help get to graduation more quickly and with less debt.

“At the same time, though, the omnibus bill raids $1.3 billion from the Pell Grant’s temporary reserves. This is a step in the wrong direction and one that cannot continue, despite the Trump administration’s proposal to do so in its FY18 budget request.

“Pell Grants provide access to college for low-income students who might not otherwise attend. Pell serves nearly 8 million students, the vast majority from families making $40,000 or less. Half of all Latino undergraduate students and more than 60 percent of African American students receive Pell Grants. In the 1980s, Pell Grants covered more than half the cost of attending a four-year public college, but in the coming academic year, Pell will cover less than 30 percent of college costs — the lowest in 40 years. We should be investing in, not taking from, this essential program that helps students earn the college degree that is the surest path to upward mobility.

“As we look toward the FY18 appropriations process, we encourage Congress to keep the interests of low-income students and students of color front and center. This means continuing to support year-round Pell. It means rejecting requests to raid the Pell reserves. And it means strengthening the Pell program by continuing the annual adjustment for inflation and increasing the maximum grant.”

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