WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced that his proposal to reinstate year-round Pell Grants was secured in the omnibus appropriations bill that was approved in the Senate yesterday. The deal includes provisions from the Year-Round Pell Grant Restoration Act, which Senator Heinrich co-sponsored, that would allow low- and moderate-income students to use Pell Grants for three semesters each academic year, rather than the current law’s limit of two semesters.
"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,” said Senator Heinrich. “I am proud that we were able to secure the reinstatement of year-round Pell Grants that will make it possible for students to continue their education year-round, providing flexibility and enabling them to join the workforce sooner.”
Now students can use Pell Grants to take summer classes, allowing them to finish earlier. Research shows that students who take courses continuously over the summer were three times more likely to complete a degree.
A Pell Grant is a financial aid tool provided by the federal government to help students and families afford college. Federal Pell Grants are awarded based on a student's financial need. Grants are dependent on the student's expected family contribution; the cost of attendance; the student’s enrollment status; and whether the student attends a full academic year or less. Unlike a loan, Pell Grants do not have to be repaid.
Nearly 7.6 million students across the country depend on Pell Grants to pay for school. In New Mexico, nearly 55,000 students rely on Pell Grants to attend and complete college. Increasing access to Pell Grants is critical in states like New Mexico where state budget cuts have impacted funding for higher education and students are faced with increased tuition rates.
Reinstating year-round Pell Grants is part of Senator Heinrich's efforts to make college more affordable. Earlier this week, he introduced the Middle Class CHANCE Act to ensure Pell Grants remain a useful tool for students. The CHANCE Act would address the significant loss in value of Pell Grants by adjusting them for inflation, reinstate year-round Pell Grants, and increase the number of eligible semesters from 12 to 15.