August 2021

A national “Double the Pell” campaign aims to persuade federal lawmakers to double the maximum Pell Grant, which is the main way the government keeps college affordable for lower-income families. Supported by a coalition of higher ed organizations and advocates for college students, the campaign’s goal is to encourage members of Congress and the Biden Administration to double the maximum grant from $6,495 to $13,000.

While change happens slowly in Washington, D.C., the aim is to secure this change by next summer, which will be the 50th anniversary of when Pell Grants were first created. In the last three appropriations cycles, Congress has tried to increase the Pell Grant to keep up with the pace of inflation. Unfortunately, the size of the grants hasn’t kept up with the cost of college.

Doubling the Pell means a bolder investment to curtail the rising affordability crisis as students pursue their professional goals. Once they earn a degree, they have a chance to get a well-paying job in the future. That is why the Pell Grant serves as a gateway for students to receive a high-quality education, earn a degree and obtain a well-paying job once they graduate.

The Pell Grant also allows students to choose the best career path for them, so they can decide whatever professional goals are most suitable. This highlights why the Pell Grant is a critical investment in the future of our country’s young leaders. As the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic remain, the Council has spread the word on doubling the Pell with letter writing to encourage federal lawmakers about the need to invest in young people.

In a June letter to Minnesota’s U.S. Senators and Representatives, the Minnesota Association of Private College Students (MAPCS) worked with the University of Minnesota Student Senate, Students United, and LeadMN. “Students from around the country, in cities and rural areas, depend on the Pell Grant to help achieve their educational dreams,” the letter noted. “Now more than ever, students from low- and moderate-income families need additional assistance to continue to pay for college and receive a quality education.”

Of the 273,721 undergraduate students across Minnesota, 114,682 students receive a Pell Grant. In Minnesota, the Pell Grant significantly helps 60 percent of Black students, half of American Indian or Alaska Native students and half of Latinx students. Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic has causes significant financial distress, making it even more crucial to provide aid during economic hardship.

The Council partnered with leaders at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota system, to send a letter to the congressional delegation as well. For these students, “no investment will have a more far reaching and meaningful impact than doubling the Pell Grant. Improving Pell Grants will have a multi-generational impact in our communities that struggle to achieve postsecondary educational success.” As the letters to the congressional delegation noted, doubling the maximum Pell Grant award would combat economic and racial inequities and remove unnecessary burdens for students who want to continue their education.

Aside from letter writing, the Council looks forward to sharing student testimonials on its social media about why the Pell Grant has been an influential asset toward their education. Learn more about the Double the Pell national campaign.

By Monali Bhakta