April 8, 2022

Whitehouse Helps Secure Largest Pell Grant Increase Since 2009 and Pushes for Doubling of Maximum Grant Award

With the increase, maximum Pell Grant will rise to $6,895 for the coming academic year

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today announced that he helped secure the largest Pell Grant increase since 2009, and reupped his push to double the size of the maximum Pell Grant and bring college within reach for more Americans.

Whitehouse advocated for the $400 increase in the discretionary portion of a Pell Grant, which was successfully included in the omnibus funding bill passed last month. With the increase, the maximum Pell Grant will be $6,895 for the coming academic year.

“Generations of Rhode Islanders have been able to achieve their dreams because of Pell Grants—the noble legacy of our own Senator Pell,” said Whitehouse, who has also sponsored legislation to make Pell Grants tax free. “Every little bit helps when it comes to paying for college, so I was glad to help secure the largest Pell Grant increase in more than a decade. But it’s not nearly enough to make up for lost ground, which why I’m working to make President Biden’s vision a reality and double the maximum award.”

President Biden’s budget proposal released last week includes a plan to double the maximum Pell Grant award by 2029.

Pell Grants covered about 80 percent of the average four-year public college tuition cost when Rhode Island’s legendary Senator Claiborne Pell created the program. The program has not kept up with the rapid increase in tuition costs, leading to a major erosion in purchasing power.

Whitehouse has pushed for meaningful student debt cancellation as well as an extension of the moratorium on student loan payments as the nation continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration announced this week that it will extend the pause through the end of August.

Whitehouse also recently joined his colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting an update on efforts to improve how the agencies handle undue hardship claims by student borrowers in bankruptcy proceedings. While most forms of debt can be discharged through the bankruptcy process, student loan debt is currently treated as non-dischargeable, except in extremely rare cases of “undue hardship.” Whitehouse is pushing to make student loan debt easier to discharge in the event a borrower is unable to make the payments.

More than 130,000 Rhode Islanders owe a total of over $4.5 billion in student loan debt.

Meaghan McCabe, (401) 453-5294

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921