Do you receive a Pell Grant? Is it not enough to help cover the cost of college? If you answered yes to those questions, you are not alone. Over the last thirty years the purchasing power of the Pell Grant has declined significantly. During the 2002-03 academic year the Pell Grant would have covered nearly 43% of the cost of attendance at a community or technical college in Minnesota. By 2019-20, the Pell Grant covered less than 32% of the average cost of attendance.
Looking at even older data compiled by the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) it is possible to see that for a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in 1975 the Pell Grant covered 79% of the cost of tuition, fees, room and board, but in 2020 it will only cover 28% of the cost. By doubling the maximum Pell Grant to $12690 it would reverse the affordability gap that has been created for both community and technical college students, and university students. See more from NCAN here.
This past week LeadMN Cabinet members met with Congressional staffers to advocate for doubling the maximum Pell Grant as part of a virtual advocacy effort organized by NCAN that included organizations from all across the country. As preparation for this work, the LeadMN cabinet attended multiple training sessions with NCAN to learn about the impact of doubling the Pell Grant and to plan for their meetings. LeadMN was joined by over sixty other organizations in this effort.
In the next few weeks Congress will likely pass another major Covid-19 relief package and then shift their focus to passing major appropriations bills, which could include an increase in the Pell Grant. As the economy continues to struggle along during the pandemic, providing more financial aid to students, especially low income students and students of color, will be critical to helping prevent socioeconomic and opportunity gaps from growing even larger than they currently are. By doubling the Pell Grant, Congress could help make college more affordable for millions of struggling Americans.