Two Democratic lawmakers are proposing a bill to increase lifetime Pell Grant eligibility and expand Pell Grant eligibility to graduate programs.
The Pell to Grad Act – introduced by Reps. Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) – would extend students’ lifetime Pell Grant eligibility from 12 to 16 semesters.
“For many students, completing college in the traditional 12 semesters is not a reality,” Stevens said. “Expanding Pell eligibility by four semesters means that the students who need it most have another chance to complete their degrees. We also know that advanced degrees are key to filling the jobs of the future. I hear from business owners across SE Michigan that they are eager to hire and have high-wage jobs in the advanced manufacturing sector just waiting to be filled. This bill will help students get the degrees they need to succeed and become a part of America’s next generation of workers and thinkers, ready to meet the demand of the future.”
The legislation will also allow students who received a Pell Grant award during undergraduate education to use remaining Pell eligibility for a first graduate degree. As it stands now, students are prohibited from using Pell Grants for graduate or professional degrees.
“Pell Grants have given millions the opportunity to receive a higher education, including myself. But Pell falls short by only funding undergraduate students and giving them a strict timeline to complete their education. In today’s job market, a master’s degree is necessary to compete for many entry level jobs, creating another barrier for low-income students and graduates,” Gomez said. “Our legislation allows students to use Pell Grants for post-grad education and extends the coverage period for from 12 to 16 semesters, enabling students to complete their education on a timeline that works for them.”