Reps. Roybal-Allard and Sánchez Introduce Summer Pell Grant Legislation Restoring Full-Year Access
Today, Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38) led 62 of their fellow House Democrats in introducing the Affordability for Constant and Continual Education to Enhance Student Success (ACCESS) Act, which will restore the year-round eligibility for Pell Grants. This spring, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard will follow her introduction of this bill by joining with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) to introduce a plan to protect and expand the Pell Grant program.
“I am proud to help introduce the ACCESS Act so that we can reauthorize year-round Pell Grants,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, a member of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, who won bipartisan support for her amendment to restore the year-round Pell Grant in the FY 2017 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill last July. “Education can help many of our student constituents reach the middle class, but right now just 21 percent of America’s low-income students get their bachelor’s degrees by age 24. Reauthorizing year-round Pell Grants will help more of these students complete their higher education and graduate faster and with less debt.”
“I know firsthand the struggle students from working families like mine face achieving their dream of going to college,” said Congresswoman Sánchez. “Through a combination of financial aid and working part-time jobs, I was able to graduate from the University of California, Berkeley in four years. The ACCESS Act will restore year-round Pell Grants for more than 8 million students who are working hard to earn their college degree. This bill is a common sense investment in our nation’s future that will yield enormous returns.”
The ACCESS Act reinstates the year-round Pell Grant eligibility which was eliminated in 2011. Currently, the Pell Grant only covers tuition from the fall to the spring semesters. However, students receiving Pell Grants often have to take more classes during summer or intersession semesters to graduate on time, as many have to balance work and school. The lack of Pell Grants in the summer or intersession semesters means these students have to take out additional student loans — or simply skip the semester entirely.
Studies show that students who take a “gap semester” are more likely to put their studies on hold, default on student loans, or drop out altogether. The ACCESS Act would bridge the gap for these students by restoring year-round Pell Grants and allowing both part-time and full-time students to receive the grant. Restoring year-round Pell Grants would help an estimated one million students graduate sooner and with less debt.