Each year at the National Student Advocacy Conference in March the American Student Association of Community Colleges (ASACC) selects up to three priorities to focus on for the year. In March of 2015, the three priorities selected were: Pell Grants, Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and Using Pre-Tax Dollars for Student Loan Payments. Over the next few weeks we will highlight the specifics of each issue dedicating the weekly blog post to providing you a better understanding.
The Pell Grant program is the foundation of federal postsecondary financial assistance to low-income students and is critical to community college access and persistence. We urge Congress to make the Pell Grant the number one priority for higher education in the FY2016 appropriations. More than any other investment in higher education, the Pell program provides access to higher education for students who otherwise could not realize the career potential which is so vital to U.S. economic competitiveness.
ASACC’s number one priority is to increase the maximum Pell Grant to $6,100 by the 2017-18 award year as called for in the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. We also encourage Congress to maintain current eligibility and revise the current semester limits for Pell from 12 to 14.
ASACC makes these two requests to increase the efficacy of the Pell program and to assist even more students in attaining their educational and career goals. Inflation reduces the value of the Pell Grant each year, and rising tuition, textbook prices, and increased cost of living will only keep the buying power of the grant similar to what it is today. ASACC also wants Congress to move the semester limits place on those receiving Pell Grants from 12 to 14. This allows students who need refresher courses to complete them, and also encourages those taking difficult programs in science, technology, engineering, and math who have technical courses requiring a lighter load to pursue those programs.
ASACC appreciates the support the Pell Grant has received over the years and looks to the program to continue to support student success. For more information about the Pell Grant see http://www2.ed.gov/programs/fpg/index.html