Democratic politicians want changes to Pell Grants

With the cost of college rising and cuts being made to higher education in many states, some Democratic politicians are pushing for changes to how students may pay for college.

According to, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) is proposing to allow students to use Pell Grants for three semesters instead of two. She also wants to “increase the Pell Grant maximum for the 2014-2015 school year from $5,730 to $9,139.”

By way of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), spending on Pell Grants from 2006 to 2011 rose by 158 percent. The data also shows that the increase in spending was due to an uptick in the number of participants in the program.

But as of late, Congress has created a bottleneck of sorts around Pell Grants. Restrictions have been put in place so many students do not have access to receive them.

Another proposal put forth by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) has the aim of of providing “two-years of maximum Pell Grants to qualifying middle school students who maintain good grades through high school, to help them pay for a college or university.”

According to Stabenow, her bill would encourage middle school students to go after a college degree if they have some form of guaranteed funding starting in the 8th grade.

These ideas are surely meant to secure needed funding for students who would otherwise struggle to pay for college. But it’s also a way for Democrats to show their strength on higher education compared to their political counterparts, Republicans.

Both proposals from Stabenow and Hirono will have to be pushed through a Republican controlled Congress, one that has placed constraints around Pell Grants so that the program isn’t so economically stressed.

Still–students need new and innovative ways to pay for college. They also need help from the government due to the rising cost of college. Increasing the max Pell Grant amount and extending the offer to middle school students both seem to be good incentives to keep students interested in attending college and tamping costs down.

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