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President Biden proposed a $2,175 increase in the maximum Pell Grant today in his budget proposal to Congress for fiscal 2023. That would bring the maximum annual Pell award to $8,670.

There is no guarantee that he’ll get what he’s asking for. And Republicans in Congress are already taking aim at the overall budget proposal.

The Education Department briefing book on the budget proposal said, “Pell Grants have been the foundation of low- and moderate-income students’ financial aid for decades. However, the value has diminished as college costs continue to rise … This historic increase is a significant down payment on the president’s commitment to doubling the grant.”

The budget proposal would permit 6,657,000 students to receive Pell Grants, up from 6,133,000 this year.

The president also proposed increases for a series of programs for historically Black colleges and for other minority-serving institutions.

“To foster more and better opportunities in higher education for communities that are often underserved, the request provides $1.1 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding to expand capacity at institutions of higher education that serve high proportions of students of color,” the budget book said.

Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, said, “This would be a substantial down payment on the president’s promise to double the maximum Pell Grant, a proven and effective program which helps roughly seven million moderate- and low-income students gain access to postsecondary education each year. And it recognizes the singular importance of HBCUs, [tribal colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions] and other minority-serving institutions and the need to correct existing inequities in higher education.”

However, the budget proposal was flat for work-study and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Mitchell said, “ACE and the higher education community will be working with Congress and the administration to show why further increases in those programs are necessary and represent wise investments in the nation’s human capital.”

President Biden did not propose a free community college program, as he did last year.

David Baime, senior vice president for government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges, said, “The Pell Grant increase represents a dramatic commitment to community college student success—one out of every three community college students receives a grant.”

As to free community college, Baime said, “The administration has indicated that it remains committed to free community college, and that goal is shared by our members across the country.”

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