Pell Grant Fund Is Short $18 Billion Pell Grant Fund Is Short $18 Billion

Pell Grant Fund Is Short $18 Billion

by Nikhil Swaminathan

December 12, 2009
The Obama Administration revealed yesterday that the fund for Pell Grants is short $18 billion, the largest shortfall in the 36 years that the need-based awards have existed. The grants, which the AP calls "the foundation for federal college aid," are given to any student who qualifies for them-usually meaning that their family makes less than $40,000 per year. Last year, the government awarded money through the Pell Grant program to more than 6 million students.The main causes of the lack of funds are the increase in college enrollment, which typically spikes when the economy tanks, and new Congressional changes to eligibility that allowed more families to qualify for the money. According to Jason Delisle at the New America Foundation's Ed Money Watch blog, increases in the maximum grant from $4,731 to $5,500 mean the Pell Grant program will go from costing $14 billion in 2008 to $32 billion in 2011. So, beginning this summer, when Congress needs to start appropriating money for 2011, it'll have to find $30 billion somewhere (and every year henceforth)-which could anger meet opposition resistance from those who are concerned about ballooning programs.So, while this likely won't affect students and their families directly, with all the tuition hikes and budget cuts hitting college campuses around the U.S., we wouldn't mind hearing some good news about college finances in the near-term.
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Pell Grant Fund Is Short $18 Billion