The Pell Grant Might Help Cut Expenses: Free College On Hold Under President Biden’s Plans

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President Biden’s attempt to make college free for students appears to be on hold for now. Plans to make community colleges tuition-free aren’t likely to be part of the final social safety bill. But the Pell grant could be a game-changer and is still very much on the agenda.

Biden’s latest efforts would add another $500 over the current maximum of $6,495 to the Pell grant. The award is a key component of financial aid for the past 50 years. The Pell grant doesn’t have to be returned and may be utilized by qualifying students in the low-income category to cover various costs.

President Biden had initially tried for a $1,400 rise under the Build Back Better proposal. The amount thus falls short and is also well below his pledge during the presidential campaign. He had promised to increase by 100% the maximum payable. Many Democrats pushed for that for years.

President Biden’s spending plan for the next 10 years is under negotiations. The original plan of $3.5T could see drastic cuts.

Even moderate Democrats including Senators Manchin and Sinema have said that the budget is too high. Biden revealed that several priorities will have to be cut out of the plan. It includes the proposal to make tuition-free for two years of community college.

Jill Biden, the President’s wife, is a professor at a Northern Virginia community college. She had stressed that free tuition still remains a top priority of the administration, even though it has been dropped from the present bill.

Pell Grant And A Tuition-Less Community College

The Pell grant can be used to pay the cost of fees, tuition, board, and room, as well as other costs related to education. One of its biggest advantages is that it can be used for expenses beyond education costs.

Undergraduate students joining for the first time will receive sufficient grant aid that covers their fees and tuition. The Pell grant averages $3,770 each year since 2009-2010.

Books, laptops, housing, food, transportation are within its ambit of expenses. Students are forced to take loans to cover such expenses. Such additional expenses come to $14,780 on an average every year. they would not be covered under a tuition grant.

Experts say that free tuition would lead to a surge in student enrollment. The Pell grant is also available for private and public 4-year courses at colleges. Around 7M students have benefitted from the Pell grant over the last 5 years.