Doubling Pell Grants may provide financial relief for low-income students


Brian Gallegos

Increasing the amount of aid given by federal Pell Grants will help relieve students from their financial burdens.

Richard Ho, Staff Writer

With the pandemic causing high unemployment rates, the financial situation for low-income students has only worsened this past year. To help low-income students struggling to pay their tuition, the government should increase funding for Pell Grants.  

Pell Grants are a type of federal aid that helps undergraduates pay for tuition. Even before the pandemic, many college students had to work and many also resorted to taking out student loans, making Pell Grants necessary to help pay for college. 

In the 1970s, Pell Grants for low-income students used to cover 77 percent of the actual costs of public universities. But since Congress has little interest in increasing Pell Grants, these grants only cover less than 50 percent of undergraduate tuition today. Therefore, doubling Pell Grants heavily benefits low-income students because it reduces their financial pressure so they can focus on performing well academically. 

The UC system called on Congress to double the Pell Grants in a Mar. 25 letter because they recognize undergraduate students are struggling financially to pay their expenses during the pandemic. Congress’ delay of an increase of Pell Grants caused low-income students to suffer financially. 

While individual states can provide their own grants to lower the financial burden for college students, it is not enough without the increase of federal grants. Since the recent increases of undergraduate tuition and college-related expenses, the Pell Grant program as it is now gives insufficient funds to low-income students. 

By increasing the amount of aid given through the Pell Grants, college students may feel less stressed about their finances and perform better academically. 

Many college students resorted to student loans and working multiple jobs to make ends meet prior to the pandemic era. The loss of income and the frustration of paying off their student loans for most college students is devastating financially during the pandemic.

Doubling funding for Pell Grants also encourages more low-income and first-generation college students to pursue higher education to get a college degree. 

Few college students are able to pay for expensive college price tags from scholarships alone or by relying on their parents to pay for their tuition. It is necessary to increase Pell Grants to lower the financial burdens on low-income college students. 

Congress needs to invest more money to improve access to higher education.