News Releases

Murray Co-Sponsors Bill to Help Make College Dream a Reality

Jan 26 2005

Bi-partisan legislation would protect students from changes to critical grant funding

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray today joined with both Democratic and Republican colleagues in introducing legislation to protect students from changes to the Pell grant program. The Ensuring College Access for All Americans Act guarantees that students will not lose grant aid due to new eligibility changes enacted by the Bush Administration.

Recently, the Department of Education changed the tax tables used to calculate “expected family contribution” towards college cost. It is estimated that these changes will force 89,000 students to lose their Pell grants completely, and an additional 1.3 million students to lose a portion of their aid.

“The federal government should be helping students achieve the dream of a college education, not holding them back,” Senator Murray said. “While the federal budget is tight, family budgets are even tighter. Now is not the time to limit access to higher education and the promise of a good-paying job in the future.”

At the University of Washington alone, the Administration’s proposed changes will mean that more than half of the nearly 7,000 students who are eligible for Pell grants will lose up to $200 a year.

“The Administration’s short-sighted changes will have lasting effects on our state’s economy and workforce. The more difficult it is for students to receive financial aid, the more likely they are to delay graduation, drop-out, or forgo college entirely,” Murray said.

The Administration’s new eligibility requirements are particularly troubling now that the President has backed away from his pledge to increase Pell grant funding.

While President Bush originally committed to increasing Pell grants to $5,100, the Administration is now suggesting an increase of just $500 over 5 years. The maximum amount of funding provided through Pell grants is currently just $4,050.

“Today’s legislation is a good first step in protecting students from unfair eligibility requirements. I will continue to fight to ensure that all students have access to quality higher education and the skills necessary to compete in a changing workforce.”