House Votes to Increase the Maximum Pell Grant Award and to Restore Educational Programs the Bush Administration Sought to Eliminate

The good news is that for the first time in five years the U.S. Congress appears willing to increase the maximum Pell Grant award. The House Appropriations Committee voted to increase the maximum Pell Grant award to $4,150.

The bad news is that this increase in Pell Grant awards amounts to an insignificant $100. Thus, in an election year, the GOP Congress is offering a token increase in an effort to woo low-income and minority voters or perhaps to deflect charges that it is not concerned with educational issues.

More important was the committee’s decision to spare some popular education programs that the Bush administration had proposed to eliminate. Some of the programs the Congress restored to the budget, which disproportionately benefit blacks, were the Upward Bound and Talent Search programs for low-income students and Gear-Up, a program for disadvantaged middle school students.

The committee, however, voted to eliminate the Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity Program, a tutoring program for minority and low-income students who aspire to go to law school.