Both Congress and the President Propose an Increase in Pell Grants

The maximum Pell Grant award has remained at $4,050 for the past five years. For the most part, these awards are for college students who come from families with incomes below $40,000 per year. As expected, blacks make up a disproportionate percentage of Pell Grant recipients. Without the Pell Grant program many blacks from low-income families would be unable to attend college.

The new Democratic-controlled Congress has proposed a $260 increase in the maximum Pell Grant for next year. But President Bush upped the ante calling for a rise of $550 next year and $1,350 over the next five years.

The problem is that the administration’s plan calls for cuts to other student aid initiatives in order to pay for the increase in Pell Grants. The proposed $550 increase in the maximum awards would cost taxpayers $2 billion next year.

The Pell Grant issue will be a political hot potato over the coming weeks as both sides look to enhance their credentials as the party that is most concerned about education.