July 8, 2021
In the past, Federal Pell grants made the difference between whether a student could or could not afford to achieve a higher education.
But now, due to the rise in affordability challenges — such as food and housing insecurity — the federal financial aid is “no longer enough,” according to Dr. John Downey, president of Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC).
Though the Pell grant assists nearly seven million low- and middle-income students, the current maximum rate covers under one-third of the average cost of attendance at a four-year public institution, according to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).
Given that 75% of students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are Pell-eligible, the UNCF has been actively involved in efforts to increase the Pell grant.
In 2019, Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF’s president and CEO, called on Congress to double the maximum Pell grant during the State of the HBCU Address.
“Doubling the Pell Grant would go a long way to help restore the purchasing power of the program that it had back in its’ mid-1960s origination,” said Lodriguez Murray, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs at UNCF. “It targets the funding to the students that need it the most.”
Other higher education advocacy groups and institutions have followed suit.