June 29, 2021

Duckworth, Durbin Join Hirono, Murray in Introducing Bill to Double Pell Grant Awards to Help Make College More Affordable


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA) and 18 of their Senate colleagues in introducing legislation to help make college more affordable. The Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act would double the Pell Grant award, index the award to inflation and make other changes to expand the award for working students and families.

“Those of us who weren’t always sure we’d be able to go to college understand the power of a diploma,” Duckworth said. “We cannot stay on the sidelines as higher education keeps slipping further and further out of reach for so many people. Every American deserves the opportunity to enroll in college and complete a degree, and expanding and strengthening Pell Grants is one important way to help. I’m proud to join Senators Hirono and Murray in introducing this legislation.”

“Increasing the Pell Grant will open doors to higher education to more students. I’m proud to support this bill which will double Pell Grant awards and help working families and students earn a college degree,” Durbin said.

“Every year, Pell Grants make college more affordable for millions of students in the United States—including tens of thousands of students in Hawaii. But over the last decade, the value of the Pell Grant has steadily declined—from covering nearly fourth-fifths of the cost of attendance at a public, four-year institution at its height, to less than one-third,” Hirono said. “With the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, we have a real opportunity to restore the value of the Pell Grant for generations of students. I join my colleagues Senator Murray and Representatives Scott and Pocan in introducing this important legislation that will help more students pursue higher education."

“It’s thanks to Pell grants that I was able to graduate and get a great education from Washington State University—but today’s students are being asked to pay more for college with less financial support. Students should never be forced to give up their higher education dreams because they can’t afford it—and this legislation will take a significant step in helping to make sure college is within reach for more students,” Murray said. “I’m proud to introduce the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act alongside my colleagues, and I’ll be working hard to get this across the finish line and ensure that every student—no matter how much money their family makes—has the opportunity to succeed.”

The Pell Grant program is the cornerstone of federal financial aid for postsecondary education, serving more than 6.7 million students, or 40 percent of all undergraduate students in higher education. The current maximum grant amount is $6,495. This bill would increase the maximum Pell Grant by $1,475 for the 2022-23 award year and double the maximum Pell Grant over a period of five years to $13,000. This legislation would also make the Pell Grant funding fully mandatory to protect it from funding shortfalls, expands the program to include DREAMers and restore lifetime eligibility for the program to 18 semesters, among other changes that will benefit students.

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI-02) and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-03). In addition to Senators Duckworth, Durbin, Hirono and Murray, the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act bill text is available here. A bill summary is available here.