Spending bill would increase Pell grant payouts

CARMEN GUZMAN, Managing Editor

Dallas College students on financial aid could get $820 more from their Pell grant, provided a federal spending bill passes.

President Joe Biden requested $90 billion for an education budget that increases the Pell grant’s maximum from $7,395 to $8,215, with plans to double the grant by 2029.  The bill also allocates $500 million to establish a plan for establishing free community college.

“That’s going to jumpstart a lot of underprivileged students,” social work major Sarahi Aeevedo said. “They don’t have the money or they think community college is expensive.”

Although Aeevedo plans to go to a four-year school, it depends on whether financial aid can foot the bill. 

Biden has already increased the Pell grant by $900. The grant amount has increased twice during his term, after previously going untouched since 2009.

An additional $200 million in Biden’s education budget request would strengthen student recruitment in addition to workforce training, dual enrollment and work opportunities through employers.

That’s going to jumpstart a lot of underprivileged students.

— Sarahi Aeevedo social work major

Tuition subsidies are packaged with the proposal, provided a student is enrolled in a minority-serving institution such as Eastfield.

Students from families who make under $125,000 would receive $4,500 per year for two years.

“It’s a good first step in creating the equity that other industrial places have,” said Marcel Jagne-Shaw, dean of student financial resources. “There are places in Europe and Africa where higher education is subsidized, and community college is a good testing ground for that.”

Pell grants usually pay most, if not all community college tuition, Jagne-Shaw said. The spending bill’s true strength lies in increasing the four-year degree’s accessibility.

“While the cost of community college has risen, it’s still largely affordable for most Americans,” Jagne-Shaw said.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid would receive $620 million to simplify its application process, a provision that was cut from Biden’s loan forgiveness plan. However, students worry about Republicans killing the bill entirely.

“They want these communities to stay underprivileged and they don’t do anything,” Aeevedo said.

With higher education being one of the main tenets of Biden’s administration, students and employees can only hope Biden delivers on his education promises.

“I hope to see more policies that empower students,” Jagne-Shaw said.

Higher education institutions and education leaders, such as the American Council on Education, have praised the proposal for its financial strength. 

Even with contingencies in place, Aeevedo said she’ll take all the money she can get for advancing her education.

“It would show that this country cares for its students,” she said.