Representatives Casten, Lee Introduce Pell Grant Sustainability Act

October 11, 2019
Press Release

Downers Grove, IL. – Today, U.S. Representatives Sean Casten (IL-06) and Susie Lee (NV-03) introduced the Pell Grant Sustainability Act. The bill would make sure that Federal resources for college students keep up with current costs by indexing Pell Grants to inflation.

From 2009 to 2018, the value of discretionary Pell Grants stayed flat while inflation rose 17% and college tuition went even higher. The maximum Pell Grant now covers the smallest share of college cost ever, just 28% compared to over half in the 1980s. With Pell Grants becoming less valuable each year, the over 7 million students who depend on them are less able to afford to tuition.

“With college tuition skyrocketing and working families’ wages stagnating, it’s becoming nearly impossible for many students to pursue higher education,” said Rep. Casten. “Our Pell Grant system has been incredibly successful with helping Americans get their degrees, but this success will not be sustained if the value of these grants continues to diminish. I’m proud to introduce the Pell Grant Sustainability Act with Congresswoman Lee to ensure these grants continue to open doors to education for generations to come.”

“For decades, Pell Grants have been a cornerstone of our higher education system, making college more affordable for millions of Americans,” said Rep. Lee. “However, not indexing Pell Grants to inflation has made this vital resource less and less valuable with each passing year. One of my top priorities in Congress is making affordable higher education opportunities available to every American. My bill with Congressman Casten, the Pell Grant Sustainability Act, is an effective, commonsense step towards making that a reality.”

“The University of Illinois System is grateful to Rep. Casten for introducing this legislation,” said Barbara J. Wilson, Executive Vice President for the University of Illinois System. “It is critical that the value of the Pell Grant keeps up with annual inflation adjustments to ensure that our students with financial need continue to receive the funding that will support their success.”

The bill will now go to the House Education and Labor Committee for consideration. It has been endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, Association of American Colleges and Universities, National Association of College Admissions Counseling, and University of Illinois.