Pell grant increase signed into law

By Mike Devine

Recipients of the federal Pell Grant scholarship learned last week that the maximum grant money will increase by $260 for the 2007-08 school year.

The maximum Pell Grant scholarship that can be awarded to a student will now be $4,310, up from $4,050. The Pell Grant is the primary form of need-based financial aid provided by the federal government, awarded to students who submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meet criteria designated by the government.

Seamus Harreys, dean of student financial services, said about 20 percent of Northeastern students receive Pell Grants, though the amount varies each year. Over the past five years, the amount of incoming students receiving the Pell Grant has held fairly steady, Harreys said.

He said the Pell Grant has not kept pace with inflation since taking effect in 1964.

“It is important the federal government invests as much as possible into providing every eligible student with aid to pursue a higher education,” he said.

The increase was signed into law by President Bush as part of a budget resolution by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and Rep. David Obey, D-Wis. It marks the first increase since 2003, when the maximum Pell Grant scholarship was increased by $50 from $4,000 to $4,050.

“While there is still a lot of work ahead to expand college access, this Pell increase is an important step toward our goal of strengthening America’s middle class by making a college education affordable and accessible for every qualified student,” said California Rep. George Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, in a statement last week.

The increase will go into effect July 1 and begin with the 2007-08 school year.

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