Pell Grants for Summer Session Students
CALL TO ACTION
During the second week of June 2016, a U.S. Senate Subcommittee approved the FY 2017 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Bill. This bill funds the U.S. Department of Education at $67.8 billion. It restores eligibility for year-round Pell grants.
In addition to restoration of year-round Pell grants, expanded eligibility and flexibility will allow students who have exhausted their Pell grant award for an academic year, and wish to enroll in additional coursework, to receive a Pell grant for an additional term (e.g. summer) during the academic year. The maximum benefit these students may receive during a year is capped at 150 percent of the otherwise maximum Pell grant. Currently, full-time students and some part-time students exhaust their full benefit after two semesters. Expanded eligibility will provide an incentive for students to take classes year-round (e.g. summer) and stay continuously enrolled. It would also help students stay on track for graduation or accelerate completion of their degree program, enter or re-enter the workforce sooner, and graduate with less student debt. This provision is expected to provide an estimated 1 million students an additional Pell grant of, on average, $1,650 during the 2017-18 academic year. In addition, the bill includes more than sufficient funding to support an increase in the maximum Pell grant from $5,815 for the 2016-17 school year, to an estimated $5,935 for the 2017-18 academic year.
Now is the time for NAASS members to take action. The bill must pass the full Senate before reconciliation with the House’s bill. Your senator needs to hear from constituents to support this bill! The following are potential actions to take:
- Contact you senator and provide local rational for his/her support.
- Urge parents of college students to ask for support.
- Contact your institution’s governmental affairs office to contact the senator to urge support.
- Write op ed articles on social media and other outlets to explain the issue and urge support.
- Encourage senior campus officials to contact the senator to urge support.
- Ask students to contact their ‘at home’ senator for support.
This is a topic we’ve discussed for several years. This opportunity looks good and we need to take proactive steps to assure passage of this bill with the language that supports Pell grants.
Past NAASS President
Executive Director (retired)
Continuing & Professional Education
University of Massachusetts Amherst