Education Commission Urges Huge Increase in Pell Grant Funding

The 19-member Commission on the Future of Higher Education is prepared to issue its final report to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings next month. Among the recommendations the panel will offer the Bush administration is a 45 percent increase in funding for the Pell Grant program for low-income college students. The commission members agreed that a Pell Grant should cover at least 70 percent of the cost of higher education at a state-operated college or university. At the present time, the maximum Pell Grant award covers about 40 percent of the average annual cost of attending such educational institutions.

The commission’s recommendations will likely fall on deaf ears. Both the Bush administration and the GOP-controlled Congress have been unwilling to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by even a small amount for the past five years. Thus it is almost certain that the proposal for a major increase in the maximum Pell Grant award will be dead on arrival at the Department of Education.

Among the members of the panel was Louis Sullivan, president emeritus of the Morehouse School of Medicine and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.