Right now, going through the U.S. House of Representatives is a measure that would most definitely help lower-income students: increasing maximum Pell Grants.Â House Democrats are proposing a $260 increase for the Fall 2007 term, which if implemented would bring the total maximum Pell Grant up to $4,310.
The Pell Grant, for those not aware, is a need-based grant given to lower income students.Â As it is a grant, it does not need to be repaid.Â The Pell Grant has not received an increase since 2003, while college tuition has continued to rise.Â This has left many students with a gap in coverage, forcing many to take out extra loans.Â
The issue is expected to be brought to the House floor on Wednesday, with final actions by both the House and the Senate expected by February 15, the date that temporary funding runs out for the Department of Education programs.Â Last year’s Congress adjourned without finishing work on the 2007 education budget.
According to the College Board, last year’s maximum Pell Grant covered only one-third of tuition and fees at a four-year public college.Â Twenty years ago, the maximum grant was enough to pay for sixty-percent of college costs.Â A boost in the maximum Pell Grant award would be much needed one.
To help pay for the Pell increase, Democrats are looking to impose a one-year ban on earmarks, which are the pet projects that members of Congress traditionally add to government spending bills.