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Senators Lead Call for Continued Support of Pell Grant Program

June 6, 2017, 2:11 PM HST
* Updated June 6, 2:16 PM
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Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) led a group of 37 Senators, calling on appropriators to continue strong support for the federal Pell Grant program in Fiscal Year 2018.

As the largest source of federal grant aid for undergraduate students in the U.S., the Pell Grant program helps millions of students nationwide and 20,000 students in Hawai‘i attain higher education by making college more affordable.

In a letter to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Senators applauded last year’s bipartisan compromise to restore year-round Pell Grants, and reiterated the need to strengthen and expand the Pell Grant program for students in order to promote higher education in the United States.

The Senators wrote:

“The need for Congress to provide robust investment in the Pell Grant program is clear. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 90 percent of the fastest growing jobs in our country demand higher education. By 2020, 65 percent of all job openings will require college education or training. We will not meet the demand for a highly-educated workforce without increasing the number of students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds who are able to afford and get access to higher education.

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“Pell Grants are the cornerstone of federal higher education financial aid, and currently help over 7.8 million students from low- and moderate-income families pursue higher education in the United States.”

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The letter was also signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Van Hollen (D- Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Margaret Wood Hassan (N.H.).

Click here to download a copy of the letter: 2017.05.25_FY18 Pell Grant Letter-FINALSIGNED

Sen. Hirono remains a strong advocate of college affordability, especially through the federal Pell Grant program. This letter serves as part of her continued commitment to improving the Pell Grant program. Earlier this Congress, Sens. Hirono and Murray introduced S. 1136, the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, comprehensive Pell Grant legislation to expand and permanently safeguard the Pell Grant program by increasing the maximum Pell Grant award, indexing the award amount for inflation, and moving the program to fully mandatory funding to protect it against future cuts. Earlier this year, Sen. Hirono also reintroduced S. 900, the Year-Round Pell Grant Restoration Act, which was included in the bipartisan compromise bill that restored year-round Pell Grants for students, allowing them to use their grants for three semesters each academic year.

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