May 21, 2024

Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Call to Strengthen Federal Pell Grant Program

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today joined Senate colleagues in calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure funding for the Pell Grant program for Fiscal Year 2025. In the letter, the senators request a discretionary increase to the award as Congress works towards doubling the Pell Grant for students.

“We remain concerned that the value of the Pell Grant has steadily declined since it was first created – now covering the lowest share of the cost of attendance in its 50-year history,” the senators wrote. “Increasing the maximum award would provide a substantial investment toward reversing this decades-long decline.”

The Senators request the discretionary allocation for the Pell Grant program to meet the current and future needs of students, protect all Pell Grant program reserves, and expand eligibility to students historically excluded from eligibility for the Pell Grant.

“The need for Congress to provide robust investment in the Pell Grant program is clear. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, students are still struggling just to meet their basic needs as they pursue higher education,” continued the senators. “It is critically important that the Subcommittee continues to protect all Pell Grant reserves from any reallocation, raid, or rescission that would hasten any shortfalls in the program.”

“The Pell Grant is the cornerstone of federal student aid, and currently helps over 6 million students pursue higher education in the United States,” the senators concluded. “With a continued investment in the Pell Grant, we can better extend educational opportunity to more students from low- and moderate- income families, who will be critical to meeting the demand for a highly educated-workforce.”

This letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee follows another letter led by Merkley and signed by Wyden calling for continued funding for Campus-Based Student Financial Aid programs such as the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work Study programs.

The letter was led by U.S Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii),  Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I). In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the letter was signed by Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sherron Brown (D-Ohio), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.).  

The full text of the letter is here.