An $85 increase in maximum Pell grant funding1 may not sound much when you need thousands of dollars to obtain a degree, but it’s better than nothing.
Those that qualify for Pell grants will see the maximum amount go up from $5,550 to $5,635 in the school-year of 2013 to 2014. This measure was passed by the U.S. Senate Appropriations committee and will help reduce student indebtedness in the long-run.
The California State University alone has 17,000 recipients for the Pell grants, and the increase means a collective increase of approximately a million dollars for the students. Lenny Daniel, a graduate student in CSUN says “To not have to worry about paying back loans and receiving this grant helps out tremendously,” commenting on how difficult it is to graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
The importance of both Pell grants and Stafford loans are apparent when you consider the alternative – private student loans.
Fluctuating interest rates, the need for a co-signer in most cases and the lack of any safety net whatsoever means that students who are unable to pay their dues will find themselves stuck in a spiral of debt that will keep them financially crippled for decades to come.
In the meantime, efforts are being made to amend the measure passed by U.S. Senate Appropriations committee to restore $50.72 million for the Math and Science Partnership program, which aims to bring together colleges and “high-need” school districts to improve education in math and the sciences.
Interestingly enough, recent studies have shown that federal student aid causes college tuition fees to go up. These same studies are promoting Pell grants as a better alternative to Stafford loans and even go so far as to call for an end to all federal student loans.