Happy 40th, Pell Grants!
Forty years ago, America began a crucial investment in education with the creation of Pell Grants. Forming the foundation of student aid for college, Pell Grants have helped countless many of the college-bound afford higher education. And with its focus on students with financial hardship, the Pell Grant program keeps America true to its ideals of social mobility and education as a great equalizer.
But a recent column in the Wall Street Journal tried to stir controversy with the Pell Grants program. The number of Pell grantees has almost doubled in recent years, and the Journal argued that the costs are getting out of hand. Our friends at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities were quick with a rebuttal. Yes, helping more students achieve has increased the cost of the program, CBPP writes, but government data projects the spending to plateau in the coming years.
The extra enrollment comes from slightly expanded eligibility rules for the program, passed in recent years with bipartisan support. What’s more, CBPP writes, three-fourths of Pell grantees come from families with incomes of $30,000 or less — families, in other words, whose entire yearly earnings couldn’t pay for a year’s tuition at the most elite universities.
Do you have a Pell story? Share in the comments!