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Congressman Bobby Scott working to double Pell Grant amount

Student Debt
Rod Lamkey
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AP/Pool Consolidated News Photos
FILE - Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., speaks during a House Committee on the Budget hearing on March 29, 2022, in Washington. Building on President Joe Biden’s student debt cancellation plan, House Democrats on Thursday, Sept. 15, proposed new legislation that would increase federal student aid, lower interest rates on loans and take other steps to make college more affordable. “Simply put, by making loans cheaper to take out and easier to pay off, the LOAN Act will help improve the lives of student loan borrowers — both now and in the future,” said Scott.

Congress is about to consider a new bill from a Virginia member of the House aimed at helping low-income students attend college.

Congressman Bobby Scott says now is the time to build on the president's recent action forgiving college loans, especially for low-income students who receive Pell Grants. That's why he is introducing a bill that would double the amount of money available to students who qualify.

"There will be a significant cost, but this is the cost of making sure that people have the opportunity that President Johnson promised when he signed the Higher Education Act that any student in any state can apply to any college or university and not be turned away because the family is poor," Scott says. "And that has not been the case. You have to be willing to take on crushing debt now."

Lee Andes at the State Council of Higher Education says the bill is great news for low-income students.

"Right now, the current amount, $6,895 right now, would more than cover tuition at a community college. But it would only cover about half or less of the tuition and fees at a four-year institution," Andes explains. "So by doubling it going up to $1,300 students can use the Pell grant even if they didn't receive any other aid they would have most of their tuition and fees at the average cost of a four-year public institution."

Scott says once the Congressional Budget Office puts a price tag on the bill, he's hoping to schedule hearings this fall.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.