Penn State joins letter to Congress calling for doubling of maximum Pell Grant

April 27, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has joined other Pennsylvania institutions of higher education to sign a letter to congressional leaders encouraging a doubling of the maximum federal Pell Grant. The letter includes hundreds of universities and educational associations and is part of a nationwide effort to double the dollar amount of the maximum Pell award. 

The letter asks members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to increase investment in the Pell Grant program, which is the foundation of financial aid for many students, including 18,629 Penn Staters. Increasing the grant will provide greater aid to low- and moderate-income families while addressing racial and economic inequities and reducing overall student debt. The maximum Pell Grant is currently $6,345 for the 2020-21 award year and is scheduled to increase by $150, to $6,495, for 2021-22.

“After adjusting for inflation,” said Amanda Wintersteen, director of federal relations for Penn State’s Office of Government and Community Relations, “the maximum Pell Grant award was lower in the 2018-19 academic year than it was in 1978-79, meaning that the current award covers less than one-third of the cost of attendance.”

To help keep a world-class Penn State education within financial reach for the commonwealth’s working families, the University has taken aggressive action to control the cost of a degree, including freezing the resident tuition rate University-wide in four of the past six years and implementing programs under the Achieve Penn State initiative that are designed to help students graduate on time and with less debt. Notably, Penn State ranks seventh among the 36 public members of the Association of American Universities for the smallest overall increase in in-state tuition over the last 10 years. 

Signing this letter is another way Penn State demonstrates its commitment to access and affordability.

“The Pell Grant is critically important to Penn State students at all campuses,” Wintersteen said. “The program, and what it does for our Pennsylvania resident students, is essential to the fulfillment of our mission as Pennsylvania’s land-grant university.” 

In addition to signing onto the letter, Penn State is encouraging individual advocacy through Advocate Penn State. Hearing directly from the University community, particularly from students and alumni who have utilized the Pell Grant to earn their degree, is crucial as Congress discusses greater educational investments. 

Supporters of doubling the Pell Grant can contact their representative and senators with a pre-written message at advocate.psu.edu. More information also is available on the Advocate Penn State website and social media pages. 

Last Updated April 27, 2021