Pell Grants Likely Face Cuts In Budget Talks

Ann McClure's picture
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some rancorous debate in Congress in the next few months could have significant consequences for college students — and plot the course for future higher-education funding.

Congressional budget-cutters are likely to tape a big bull's-eye squarely on the back side of the federal Pell grant program, which for 40 years has provided bedrock funding to make college more affordable for low- and middle-income students. As a big-ticket budget item, the Pell grant program makes an inviting target.

More than 9 million students now rely on Pell grants, which provide a maximum of $5,550 a year.

The grant money doesn't require repayment, but it now covers less than a third of the cost of attending a four-year public college compared with more than half a couple of decades ago. That's the smallest share in the history of the program, according to the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit organization that promotes efforts to make higher education affordable.

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