Call for congressional support of Pell Grants

Rep. Mark Walker

Call for congressional support of Pell Grants
May 11
06:30 2017



Two Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriation Subcommittees, asking for the restoration of funding for year-round access to Pell Grants, which students of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) sorely depend on.

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC-6) of Greensboro and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) sent an April 27 letter to Republican Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, and U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), chairman of House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, as well as their Democratic ranking members, asking that year-round Pell Grants be fully funded for the fiscal year 2018 Appropriations legislation.

“Access to Pell Grants is particularly important to students attending (HBCUs) and other Minority serving Institutions (MSIs),” Walker and Scott wrote. “Around 70 percent of students attending an HBCU in 2017 will do so using a Pell Grant. During a recent Congressional fly-in of HBCU Presidents and Chancellors, year-round Pell garnered nearly unanimous support from those in attendance.”

Both Sen. Scott and Rep. Walker were co-sponsors of that HBCU fly-in on Feb. 28, in hopes of impressing on congressional leaders the need to increase the federal budget for traditionally underfunded black schools.

N.C. A&T University and Bennett College for Women are in Walker’s congressional district.

“Giving students the opportunity to use a Pell Grant on a year-round basis provides an incentive to accelerate their degree and stay on track for graduation,” the letter continued, earlier noting that the Pell “is a vital resource for expanding access and affordability to higher education for some of America’s most vulnerable and non-traditional students,” with 83 percent of Pell Grant recipients coming from households earning $30,000 or less annually during 2013-2014.

Re-emphasizing that year-round Pell Grants allow students to complete their course work faster, enter the workforce sooner, and “get out of school with less debt to pay back,” Sen. Scott and Rep. Walker concluded their letter with, “We believe the time is now to make this change.

“We urge you to consider and adopt appropriate language in any Labor-HHS appropriations bill and give students the flexibility they deserve.”

Students and alumni from HBCUs in North Carolina and across the country rallied at Capitol Hill April 27, the same day Rep. Walker and Sen. Scott sent their letter to the Appropriation subcommittee chairs of both houses, asking for Congress to support year-round Pell Grants and other education funding programs.

Jack Minor, communications director for Rep. Walker, says that helping HBCUs is a priority of the Republican-led Congress.

“For us, most of what we are looking for can and would be done outside the scope of the budget,” Minor said in a statement. “For instance, expanding Pell grants to year-round, and focusing on fostering private-public relationships to help HBCU students with more opportunities after school.”

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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