The Student Aid Alliance has asked House and Senate appropriations leaders to approve additional funding for federal student financial aid programs as Congress concludes the FY18 funding process.
In a letter, the Alliance reminded committee leadership that financial aid programs "allow low- and middle-income students to access and afford a college education, which is increasingly essential to compete in the modern economy." The programs, however, "have suffered repeated cuts since the implementation of sequestration in 2013, and funding has not kept pace with increased student need."
The Alliance requested additional funding for seven programs:
Pell Grants: A $100 increase in the maximum award for FY 2018, as a floor in determining the appropriate level of Pell funding for this year. CBO estimates over 7.5 million students will use Pell Grants in the coming academic year to finance their education.
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG): SEOG funding should be restored to $757 million. This program provides targeted, need-based grant aid of up to $4,000 per student to 1.6 million students. Participating colleges match federal dollars to make more than $1 billion in grant aid available.
Federal Work-Study (FWS): The FWS program should be funded at $990 million. Federal and institutional funding for FWS helps more than 700,000 students work part-time to help pay their college costs. Studies show that students who work on campus have higher graduation rates.
TRIO: The Federal TRIO programs should be funded at the $1.01 billion. TRIO serves students from middle school through college, including military veterans and students with disabilities, helping them get into college and complete their programs.
GEAR UP: GEAR UP should be funded at $350 million. This increase would bring approximately 42,000 new students into the program and increase the overall number of students served to 612,000. GEAR UP has a proven track record of success in preparing students to enter and succeed in college.
Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN): Proposed cuts to GAANN should be reversed, and the program should be funded at $31 million. GANN competitive grants offer support to top students studying in fields directly related to American competitiveness.
Perkins Loans: The Perkins Loan program should be provided $250 million for loan cancellations.