Experts Pitch Lawmakers On Ways To Cut Pell Grant Costs

The Pell grant is a federally funded grant that is intended to allow low-income students to receive a post secondary education.
Photo courtesy of Whitman College

Photo courtesy of Whitman College

By MARISSA HIGDON

(TRNS) — Experts on higher education lending urged House lawmakers today to adopt a series of fixes for the Pell grant system.

The Pell grant is federal money that is intended to provide low-income students with a chance to go to college. Eligible students can receive a maximum of $5,635 per year, which covers about 35 percent of their annual college costs.

The grant currently serves nine million students, according to National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators President and CEO Justin Draeger, who testified at a hearing held by a House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee.

Draeger said the program cost the federal government $33 billion dollars from 2011 to 2012. To save taxpayers money, Draeger suggested creating partnerships between colleges and high schools to motivate students to consider going to college from a young age, thereby creating more potential more scholarships and less public aid.

Draeger also recommended to policymakers providing students more flexibility with their Pell funds, and rewarding students who are on track to graduate on time. Doing both, he said, would save the Pell program money.

Education Trust Director of Higher Education and Education Finance Policy Michael Dannenberg agreed with Draeger, and said that because college fees have been steadily rising, the Pell grant program will experience a large funding gap over the next decade.

“Just to maintain the current maximum grant, the Pell Grant program is projected to confront a funding gap of more than $40 billion over the next 10 years at current discretionary spending levels,” he said.

All those who testified said that the Pell program must be changed to more efficiently provide for low-income students that require federal aid to pay for a college education, but they had varying opinions on how to do that.

John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy Director of Outreach Jenna Robinson suggested limiting the number of students who are eligible for the grants.

“In order to use federal dollars effectively, eligibility requirements should be tightened so that only very low-income students receive Pell grants,” Robinson said.

She also suggested that only students that meet certain academic requirements should be eligible to apply for and receive government funding.

Others disagreed with her recommendation, saying that underprivileged students still badly need the program, and that the U.S. economy is also badly in need of more future college graduates.

“The demand for college educated workers is growing,” said Dannenberg, who pointed to a recent Georgetown University study that shows that America’s economy will be short about three million college-educated workers beginning in 2018.

“To thrive, our nation needs more young people to earn postsecondary certificates and degrees,” he said. “We will not be competitive with other nations unless our large and growing population of low-income students and students of color enrolls in and completes postsecondary certificate and degree-granting programs at much higher levels.”

DC Bureau Footer

About TRNS Washington Desk

View all posts by TRNS Washington Desk
TRNS Washington Desk
News updates from on and around Capitol Hill.

One Response to “Experts Pitch Lawmakers On Ways To Cut Pell Grant Costs” Subscribe

  1. John McDonough December 4, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Back to the drawing board…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

The World in 2:00 – July 31, 2015

The World in 2:00

Beijing wins the 2022 Winter Olympics, Rio’s water is filthy ahead of next year’s Summer games and an Ebola vaccine is announced.

Energy Sec.: Iran Deal ‘Will Certainly Go Into Effect’

The Energy Cabinet member took to the White House press poduim in a push to roundup public support of the Iran deal

State Releases Second Batch Of Clinton Emails

Hillary Clinton holds her first town hall meeting event of the 2016 campaign in Dover, New Hampshire. July 16, 2015. Photo: Luke Vargas/TRNS

The State Department originally said it would release all of the emails at once sometime in early 2016, but was quickly rebuffed by a court order.

Charleston Shooter Pleads Not Guilty

Mourners comfort each other following the massacre late Wednesday night in Charleston, SC. (Photo courtesy of the King Center)

If convicted, Roof could face the death penalty.

Obama Signs Highway Trust Fund Extension, Scolds Congress

“It’s a bad way for the US Government to do business,” Obama said.

Poll: Seniors Back Hillary Clinton

Jeb Bush and real estate tycoon Donald Trump trail at 12 percent and 11 percent.