Rep. Carbajal, Sen. Heinrich Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Improve Access to Higher Education
Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the Middle Class Creating Higher Education Affordability Necessary to Compete Economically (CHANCE) Act H.R. 2260, to increase the maximum award amount for Pell Grants and to restore year-round Pell Grant access. The CHANCE Act would make college more affordable and accessible for people of all backgrounds by addressing the significant loss in value of Pell Grants in recent years.
“As someone who relied on Pell Grants to help pay for my college degree, I know firsthand the difficulty that students from working families face when pursuing the dream of a higher education,” said Rep. Carbajal. “The CHANCE Act ensures that motivated students from all economic backgrounds have a more even playing field to succeed. This legislation helps enable students to begin their careers and give back to our communities without the burden of crushing student loan debt.”
"As the cost of tuition continues to skyrocket, we need to make sure all New Mexicans who strive for a college degree have a fair shot at affording it without being crushed by debt,” said Sen. Heinrich. “Pell Grants are the primary form of financial aid for millions of students, giving them access to an education that might otherwise be out of reach. The CHANCE Act ensures Pell Grants remain a useful tool for students and makes it possible for students to continue their education year-round, providing flexibility and enabling them to join the workforce sooner.”
Over seven and a half million students rely on Pell Grants to attend and complete college, and these need-based grants dramatically increase college enrollment among low- and moderate-income students. However, the maximum Pell Grant ($5,920) for 2017-18 only covers the smallest share of college costs since the inception of the Pell Grant program: merely one-third of the average cost of a public four-year college.
In order to improve college affordability and address this consequential loss in the Pell Grant, the Middle Class CHANCE Act would:
- Increase the individual maximum award to $9,650, bringing the maximum amount in line with the average in-state tuition costs at public four-year institutions for school year 2016-2017
- Restore the Pell Grant year-round, allowing students to receive additional Pell dollars for courses taken during the summer or intersession
- Allow Pell Grant recipients to use the awards for 15 semesters instead of the current 12
Full text of the CHANCE Act is available here.