GW calls on Congress to double maximum Pell Grant award

GW and nearly 1,200 other colleges and higher education organizations sent a letter to Congress on Thursday, asking them to double the maximum amount a student can receive from a Pell Grant.

The letter, which was signed by more than 900 colleges and universities and multiple higher education organizations that list GW as a member, asked that Congress double the $6,495 maximum grant amount lawmakers can offer. Officials with the institutions and organizations said students from low- and moderate-income families are in critical need of additional aid to pay for college and avoid taking on large amounts of debt.

“This long overdue investment will drive economic recovery, help address racial and economic inequities in college completion rates and increase overall educational attainment,” the letter reads.

Federal Pell Grants are given to students who display exceptional financial need based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The maximum Pell Grant award is $6,495, but students receive varied amounts based on individual need.

The organizations said the cost of attending college has been on the rise, but the maximum amount provided from a Pell Grant hasn’t been adjusted to the modern cost of college. The signatories said they hope that the federal government increases the grant to accommodate for inflation.

“The share of college costs covered by the grant is at an all-time low,” the signatories said in the letter. “At its peak, the maximum grant covered three-quarters of the cost of attending a four-year public college. Now, it covers less than one-third of that cost.”

Ten of the University’s 12 peer schools, all except Syracuse and Tufts universities, individually signed the letter.

GW’s signing comes amid officials’ push to increase financial aid, with recent major alumni donations for student scholarships and plans for donation campaigns throughout the bicentennial celebration.

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