Pitiful Pell Grants

President Bush said: “And we will make it easier for Americans to afford a college education, by increasing the size of Pell Grants.”

FACT: “But in the 2004–05 school year, about half of the current Pell recipients will get smaller grants or no grant at all.”

FACT: “Federal education officials recently amended how they calculate families’ eligibility for Pell grants, the backbone of federal financial aid to needy college students…That revision will bump up the share families are expected to pay, according to the American Council on Education, which represents about half the nation’s colleges and universities.”

FACT: “The change… will eliminate almost 90,000 students from the Pell program — and will reduce Pell awards to another 1.3 million students, the council says.”

FACT: “Despite soaring college costs, [Pell Grants have] been stuck at $4,050 for three years. The American Association of Community Colleges characterizes the Pell grant freeze as ‘a severe blow’ to students from low-income families at a time of declining state and local support for public higher education.”

FACT: Though President Bush recently called for raising the Pell Grant by $100 in each of the next five years, the announcement is still “shy of his pledge during the 2000 presidential campaign to raise the maximum award to $5,100.”