Maximum Financial Aid For Undergraduate - Two congressional bills would increase financial aid for college students and help address housing and food shortages at California colleges.
Senate Democrats introduced the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act on June 16. Senate and House Democrats introduced revised basic aid for college law students on June 10 and 11, respectively. Both models aim to support the efficiency of universities and the basic daily needs of students.
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According to the bill's fact sheet, the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act would double the maximum Pell Grant award from $6,495 to $13,000 over five years. The bill would also expand the eligibility of undocumented students protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy and increase the amount of aid provided to part-time students.
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The BASIC Act will allocate $1 billion in grants to high schools to research and implement programs that support student needs, such as food, housing, child care and transportation, according to a press release from Sen. Alex Padilla from California.
The introduction of the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act follows the University of California and UCLA's Double the Pell campaign, which began in February, representing a doubling of Pell Grant aid.
Currently, 35% of UC undergraduates are Pell Grant recipients. Still, federal Pell Grant funding falls short of Cal Grant or UC aid by more than $300 million, according to an emailed statement from the UC president's office. By increasing federal aid, Congress will give low-income students the critical support they need to attend college, the statement said.
Lauren Valles, vice chair of the UCSA Foundation's UC Campaign, said doubling the Pell Grant will benefit all UC students regardless of income because universities will have more resources to allocate to students with different incomes.
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"Cost should never be the reason a student chooses not to go to college," said Valles, a fourth-year political science major. “Double the Pell benefits all UC students … starting with the groups most affected by the power of college and the cost of attendance.
According to a report by the New American Economy and the President's Coalition on Higher Education and Immigration, the state of California has the highest number of undocumented college students in the United States. The University of California alone enrolls nearly 4,000 undocumented students, according to a report by the UC Collaborative to Promote Immigrant and Student Equity and the Undocumented Student Equity Project.
UCSA President and UCLA alumnus Aidan Arasasingham said another priority at UCSA is making sure undocumented students qualify for federal aid under the law.
"We want to make sure that students who fall through the cracks are able to access this important resource in the future," said Arasasingham.
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UC and UCSA also expressed support for the BASIC Act. According to an emailed statement from UCOP, UC helped develop the BASIC Act when it was first drafted and introduced in both the House and Senate in 2019. UC continued to work on the BASIC Act with its sponsors, the statement said. .
Padilla, who sponsored the BASIC Act, said in an emailed statement that the bill also includes data sharing between government departments to better connect students with government assistance such as Medicaid and public housing assistance.
"We cannot ignore the growing poverty of college and university students," Padilla said in an emailed statement. "The BASIC Act will help students focus on their goals - graduation.
Prior to the introduction of the BASIC Act, the federal government played a limited role in supporting the needs of students, Arasasingham said. However, given the impact of the pandemic on the already existing basic needs crisis, the passage of the BASIC Act is more important than ever, added Arasasingham.
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Valles said that while he believes Congress is taking an important step toward expanding college access through the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, there is still work to be done.
Valles said Congress should expand Pell Grant eligibility to undocumented students who are not protected by DACA and are currently exempt from the law.
Ideally, Pell grants should also be doubled in less time, allowing current recipients to receive the full benefits of expanded government aid, Valles added. Under the proposed law, Pell Grants would reach a maximum award amount of $13,000 for the 2028-2029 school year, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
Although the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act failed to pass Congress when it was first introduced in 2017, Arasasingham said the bill has a better chance of passing in 2021 because of President Joe Biden's campaign promise to double Pell grants. The BASIC Act also follows Biden's priority of building better by investing in disadvantaged people and American families, Arasasingham added.
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"I think it's a modern time and we're seeing support for this kind of investment in basic needs that we haven't seen in the last four years," Arasasingham said.
Tagami is the 2022-2023 PRIME content editor. He was previously a media and PRIME employee. He is a Political Science and Public Affairs major from Honolulu.
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Very few families can claim to have managed to save all the money a child needs to complete a college degree. In fact, many students achieve their educational goals by combining many different financial options. This includes savings, parental contributions, working part-time while in school, and various types of financial aid.
When scholarships and grants are not enough to cover the cost of college, students and parents can borrow additional money from the federal government, private and nonprofit lenders. This can be a confusing process, so here's a quick tutorial to explain the options available to students and parents. The first step should always be to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
You may think that financial aid only means scholarships or grants for students with financial need, but most students will receive some form of financial aid when they complete the FAFSA. It helps students qualify for grants, scholarships, work-study programs and direct federal student loans.
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Some loans are available from the US Department of Education to help students achieve their higher education goals. Here's a closer look at specific student loans available through FAFSA:
If you do the math, a first-year student can get up to $5,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Combined with savings, scholarships and other government financial aid, this is a great start to paying for college. In fact, financial experts often recommend that students take advantage of all the federally subsidized and unsubsidized loans offered through FAFSA because these types of student loans often have lower interest rates than PLUS or private loans.
However, these loans charge fees and have borrowing limits. So if grants, scholarships and subsidized loans aren't enough to cover college costs, students and parents have other borrowing options - PLUS loans and private loans.
Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS federal loans are available to parents of undergraduate students and graduate or professional students, respectively. Interest will accrue while the student is in school.
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However, just because PLUS loans come from the federal government doesn't mean they have the same low interest rates as federally subsidized and unsubsidized loans. It is therefore in the interest of both the student and the parent to shop around and compare student loan interest rates. In many cases, private student loans can offer more competitive rates and fees than PLUS loans.
Another point to remember - many colleges will add a link to a student's financial aid award letter or offer to make it easier for you to apply for a PLUS loan. This doesn't mean you have to use this option, but it's a great way to start doing your homework if you need extra money to pay for school. Keep in mind that in many cases, personal loans or other loans can have better interest rates and lower (or zero) fees to save students.
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