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YI Celebrates 50 Years of the Pell Grant

June 23, 2022
Contact: Juan Ramiro Sarmiento
(785) 760-6567 |

YI Celebrates 50 Years of the Pell Grant 

Top Pell Grant Purchasing Power at All-Time Low

(Washington, DC)  This week, the Federal Pell Grant program reached its 50th anniversary. The program is the largest need-based aid program provided by the Department of Education to students pursuing an undergraduate degree. 

Making college possible for more than 80 million students over the last 50 years, the Pell Grant remains one of the federal government’s most significant investments in higher education. While the impact of the Pell Grant program has been immense, the current award covers less than one-third of the average cost of attending a four-year public college — the lowest share in more than 40 years. 

In response, Ernest Ezeugo, Policy and Advocacy Director for Higher Education & Workforce for Young Invincibles issued the following statement: 

“For half a century, the Pell Grant program has supported millions of students across the country with an exceptional financial need to reach higher education. Pell represents an investment in the idea that education can change communities and the country for the better.

Over 80 million people have benefited from this program over the past five decades. Education is one of the most effective ways to foster upward mobility among low-income students. Bolstering Pell to meet the economic realities of this time will provide renewed and calibrated financial support for those who wish to access higher education. 

As we reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Pell Grant, it is important to recognize the ways the program must grow to continue its promise of expanding access to higher education. For example, the purchasing power of a full Pell Grant award has fallen from covering three-fourths of the average attendance cost at a four-year public institution to covering less than 30 percent. YI remains a steadfast advocate for doubling the Pell award, coupled with indexing Pell Grant aid to inflation, in order to restore the promise of the program and protect its purchasing power. 

Historically, expansions of the Pell Grant eligibility have spurred growth in higher education, advancing equity. We celebrate the Biden Administration’s efforts to expand Pell Grant eligibility to students who are incarcerated last year. We would see those efforts go even further. Congress and the Biden administration must expand Pell Grant eligibility to DACA recipients and people with Temporary Protected Status. Doing so would expand the opportunity for these student populations to complete higher education, earn good-paying jobs, and further contribute to the economy. 

Young Invincibles is committed to strengthening the Pell Grant program to ensure access and affordability to a college education for years to come.”