As the 111th Congress returns to regular session this week, the University of Washington and several higher education associations have sent letters to lawmakers in a show of support for the President’s proposal to make the Pell Grant program an entitlement. Such a move would provide annual increases equivalent to inflation (plus an additional 1%), eliminating the need for an annual debate over the program’s funding. UW’s letter was distributed to the entire Washington congressional delegation. A joint letter — from the Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, American Association of State Colleges and Universitiesm, American Council on Education, and American Association of Community Colleges — was distributed to each member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Pell Grant entitlement proposal will be debated as part of the annual appropriations process over the course of the spring, summer and early fall.
The Pell Grant entitlement would be largely paid for by savings realized from elimination of the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which is administered by financial institutions, and transition to the direct lending program for all schools. The University of Washington is already a direct lending school.