News Releases

Murray worked to expand Pell Grants in bipartisan Appropriations bill


Year-round Pell Grants will allow students who reach maximum grant amount in two semesters to continue taking courses in summer


New expansion will benefit more than 16,000 Washington state students; Pell Grant awards will increase by an average of $1,650 for these students


Senator Murray has long advocated for making college more affordable, including expanding Pell Grants


(Washington, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, announced a bipartisan deal to expand Pell Grants to make them accessible to students year-round, beginning this July 1, 2017, the beginning of the 2017-2018 award year. Restoring year-round Pell Grants, also referred to as “Summer Pell,” will make college more affordable for 16,000 students in Washington state and over one million students nationwide. Students who take courses year-round will see a benefit of an additional $1,650 per year, on average, and graduate with less student debt.


“I know firsthand the doors Pell Grants can open, so I was proud to work to protect and expand access to these opportunities for more students,” said Senator Murray. “While President Trump continues proposing massive cuts to higher education and looking out for the big corporations that defraud students and borrowers, I will keep fighting to ensure no students are held back from climbing the ladder of opportunity because they can't afford a college education.”


This expansion of year-round Pell Grants gives all students, including part-time students, the flexibility they need to advance more rapidly to complete their degrees, and this specific language was strongly supported by 34 higher education groups, particularly those advocating for community colleges. Currently, low-income students who receive Pell Grants frequently reach the maximum annual grant amount within two semesters, preventing them from affording summer or additional courses to help them graduate on-time or earlier. In 2015, the Pell Grant helped over 7.8 million students attend college, supporting more than 2 out of every 5 students in higher education.


The 2017 version of year-round Pell Grants will be more flexible for students than the version implemented with the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act, particularly for part-time students and for the financial aid administrators implementing the program on college campuses. Despite President Trump’s proposed budget to slash Pell funding and other financial aid programs that help make college more affordable for students, Senator Murray worked with Senate Republicans to come to a bipartisan agreement that expands critical investments for students, workers, women, families, and the economy.