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Democrats are calling on Senate appropriators to boost funding for the Pell Grant program for fiscal year 2025.

In a letter sent Monday, provided first to Inside Higher Ed, a group of senators urged the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education subcommittee to increase the maximum award for the Pell Grant and protect the program’s reserve funds from any cuts. After several increases to the maximum award in recent years, Congress kept it flat at $7,395 for fiscal year 2024.

Senators Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island led the letter, which was signed by 38 other Democratic senators.

The request comes as Senate and House appropriators are beginning their work to draft bills to fund the government in FY 2025. President Biden released his proposed budget in March, which included more money for the Pell Grant and increased the maximum award by $750. Even without the increase, a federal analysis from earlier this year estimated that the Pell Grant program could be short $1.3 billion unless Congress allocates more funding.

“Especially at a time of expected shortfalls in the Pell Grant program, it is critically important that the Subcommittee continues to protect all Pell Grant reserves from any reallocation, raid, or rescission that would hasten any shortfalls in the program,” the letter says. “Pell Grant funds should be retained in the program to increase the maximum award, reverse prior eligibility cuts, and provide new opportunities to provide higher education to historically underrepresented students.”