Press Release

Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Double Pell Grant, Make College More Affordable For Working Families 

Jun 25, 2024

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a video press conference to announce the introduction of the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, legislation to make college more affordable for working families. The Federal Pell Grant Program offers low-income students grants of up to $7,395 each academic year to offset the cost of an undergraduate degree. At its peak in the 1970s, the maximum Pell Grant covered more than 75% of the cost of attending a four-year public college. Today, it covers less than a third. Gillibrand’s legislation would double the maximum Pell Grant and expand eligibility for the program to help ensure that a college education is not out of reach for working families. 

As the cost of college skyrockets and federal financial aid programs fail to keep up, too many low-income students are forced to take on crippling amounts of debt or to drop out of school entirely,” said Senator Gillibrand.This bill acknowledges that $7,395 – the maximum current Pell Grant – simply isn’t enough to help with cost of attendance of $30K or more. By doubling the maximum Pell Grant, expanding access for part-time students, and automatically qualifying the families most in need, the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act will help put a college degree within reach for all students who want one, regardless of background. I look forward to getting it passed.” 

In New York, approximately 370,000 students receive Pell Grants. Over one-third of SUNY students—including over 40 percent of SUNY community college enrollees—are Pell eligible. These grants provide a lifeline for working families to help to afford a college education both at four-year institutions and community colleges. 63 percent of Pell Grant funds go to students whose families earn $30,000 dollars annually, and an estimated 92 percent of Pell Grant recipients had a total family income at or below 60,000 dollars.

Specifically, the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act would: 

  1. Increase the Pell Grant maximum award to $10,000 for the 2025-2026 academic year and nearly double the award over the next four years to $14,000 for the 2029-30 academic year and beyond.
  1. Automatically qualify low-income students enrolled in federal benefit programs like SNAP or Medicaid for the maximum award, and to receive an extra award of up to $1,500 in addition to the maximum Pell award ($15,500 total).
  1. Shift the Pell Grant program to fully mandatory funding to ensure that students can count on receiving their Pell Grants throughout their time in college, irrespective of potential federal budget cuts.
  1. Make students eligible to receive the Pell Grant for 18 semesters instead of the current 12 in order to accommodate students taking fewer credits per semester over a longer period of time. 
  1. Broaden access to Pell for part-time students to ensure that students whocan only take a few classes at a time, are able to retain access to aid as the maximum award grows.