Earlier today, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and reported the FY2019 Labor-H Appropriations bill out of committee by a 30-1 vote. This legislation abandons cuts to several vital programs for young people that were included in the House bill, preserving many essential investments. The Senate bill also increases the annual Pell Grant by $100 dollars, but it does so by rescinding $600 million from the Pell reserve fund.
While far from flawless, the bill approved today by Senate appropriators is much better for America’s young people than the proposed House version. Though the increase to the maximum Pell Grant award is not enough to keep pace with inflation, any increase makes college more affordable for low-income students who rely on Pell to afford their education. The bill also protects several critical programs for young people, including:
- CCAMPIS which helps student-parents succeed on campus
- ACA Navigator funding which helps young people understand their enrollment options and enroll in a plan that fits their needs
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness which gives public servants and non-profit workers a path out of student debt
- Federal Work Study which gives students the opportunity to learn on-the-job skills while earning wages to help cover the cost of college.
However, rescinding $600 million from the Pell reserve fund will contribute eroding the long-term financial stability of the program, increasing the risk that future economic recessions and expanded enrollment will result in damaging cuts. Young Invincibles will continue fighting this rescission and advocate for increased funding for Pell and other student aid programs to ensure that every young person can afford a quality education.
Though not perfect, this bipartisan Senate bill should serve as starting point for any future funding agreement.