December 21, 2022
Congress is planning to increase the maximum Pell Grant award to $7,395—a $500 increase—and put more money toward several student success grant programs as part of a $1.7 trillion spending package for fiscal year 2023.
The 4,155-page draft spending plan, unveiled early Tuesday morning, will be voted on this week as lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives plan to work quickly to avoid a government shutdown. The resolution currently funding the government expires Dec. 23. Lawmakers are expected to pass the bill after appropriators on both sides of the aisle worked over the last several weeks to reach an agreement on the plan.
The bill boosts funding levels for a range of federal higher education programs, including $137 million more for historically underresourced institutions. However, the Biden administration, advocates and interest groups had hoped to see higher increases across the board.
“This is not a budget in which they were doing extraordinary things,” said Jon Fansmith, assistant vice president for government relations at the American Council on Education. “This budget was a lot about making the kind of compromises necessary to get spending wrapped up for the year. They weren’t making big bold strokes in this budget.”
One of the more notable provisions is the Pell Grant increase, which was expected and is the largest in a decade. The increase will kick in for the 2023–24 award year and is the second increase in as many fiscal years. Advocates and higher education groups said the $500 increase is significant, especially when paired with the $400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award in the fiscal year 2022 budget.
“We are thrilled that Congress provided the $500 increase,” said David Baime, senior vice president for government relations for the American Association of Community Colleges. “It will significantly help low-income students finance community college.”