NCAN's Bold New Proposal to Congress Would Restore Pell's Purchasing Power

April 26, 2018

By Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Advocacy 

After passing the 2018 federal spending bill halfway through the fiscal year, Congress is diving immediately into its plans for 2019 spending, which will start Oct. 1, 2018. The current funding year ultimately included many increases in spending to support low-income college students. This week, with guidance from the member-led Policy Council, NCAN submitted a letter to both the House and the Senate appropriations committees our priorities for funding to support low-income students for the next year. 

As part of this request, NCAN is launching a bold new ask to support the future purchasing power of the Pell Grant. 

In 1975-76, the maximum Pell Grant award covered 79 percent of the cost of attendance for a four-year public education. While this proportion decreased over the next few years, it remained above 50 percent throughout the 1980s. Since then, the purchasing power of the Pell Grant has continued to decline. Even with the increase to $6,095 for the 2018-19 academic year, NCAN anticipates that the maximum Pell Grant award will only cover 28 percent of the cost of a public, four-year degree. Our proposal is to gradually return the portion that the maximum Pell Grant covers to 50 percent over the next decade. Our proposal to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees outlines how to achieve this growth step by step over the next decade.

Academic Year Public 4-Year College Cost of Attendance One-Year Percent Change  Pell Maximum Award  Percentage of CoA Covered by Pell Maximum  One-Year Percent Change in Pell Maximum Award 
08-09 $14,370 --  $4,731  33%  -- 
09-10  $15,240  6.1%  $5,350  35%  13.1% 
10-11 $16,180  6.2%  $5,550  34%  3.7% 
11-12  $17,160  6.1%  $5,550  32%  0.0% 
12-13  $17,820  3.8% $5,550  31%  0.0% 
13-14  $18,380  3.1%  $5,645  31%  1.7% 
14-15  $18,930  3.0%  $5,730  30%  1.5% 
15-16  $19,570  3.4%  $5,775  30%  0.8% 
16-17  $20,150  3.0%  $5,185  29%  0.7% 
17-18  $20,770  3.1%  $5,920  29%  1.8% 
18-19  $21,393  3.0%  $6,095  28%  3.0% 
19-20 $22,035  3.0%  $6,831  31%  12.1% 
20-21  $22,696  3.0%  $7,717 34%  13.0% 
21-22  $23,377  3.0%  $8,649  37%  12.1% 
22-23  $24,078  3.0%  $9,390  39%  8.6% 
23-24  $24,800  3.0%  $10,168 41%  8.3% 
24-25  $25,554  3.0% $10,984  43%  8.0% 
25-26  $26,311  3.0% $11,840  45%  7.8% 
26-27  $27,100  3.0% $12,737  47%  7.6% 
27-28  $27,913  3.0% $13,957  50%  9.6% 


In addition to this proposal, NCAN also asked for an approximately 14-percent increase in funding for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Federal Work-Study. These increases echo those made for fiscal year 2018, and it is our hope that Congress will again boost these programs crucial to filling the gaps in our students’ financial aid packages. 

Additionally, in support of our partners in the field, NCAN also echoed the funding requests of several federally funded programs that also support our students. These requests include funding for the TRIO and GEAR UP programs as well as Corporation for National and Community Service, which manages AmeriCorps.

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