Pell Grants


ANNCR: The Pell Grant Program – on Today's Congressional Moment.

The term “Pell Grant” becomes very familiar to millions of college–age students and their families every year. Pell Grants assist undergraduate low– and middle–income college students with tuition assitance grants that do not have to be repaid. In addition, the program encourages low–income adults to return to school and in doing so, promotes life–long learning.

The primary sponsor of the Pell Grant program was Rhode Island Senator, Claiborne Pell, who served in the Senate for 36 years. Himself — the product of the nation's finest private schools— Senator Pell took a particular interest the problems that many low– and middle–income students were having in affording college.

As the Baby–Boom Generation entered college in the late 1960s, the college population swelled — straining college–based finanacial aid. Eliminating these barriers became an important priority for Claiborne Pell.

His concerns were addressed by amendments in 1972 to the Higher Education Act. Orginially known as Basic Educational Opportunity Grants, Congress renamed them Pell Grants in 1980, to honor the efforts of Claiborne Pell in creating them.

Assisting one in every four undergraduates, the Pell Grant Program is now the federal government's largest grant program.

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