Federal Relations

February 5, 2014

Pell Grant Shortfall Delayed to FY2017

Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024. The deficit is expected to fall this year as the economy gains steam, but CBO also anticipates that increasing health care costs and higher payments on the national debt mean that those gains will not last. The deficit estimate sets the new baseline that CBO will use to assess the impact of legislative proposals this year. The agency now projects the cumulative deficit for 2014 to 2023 will total $7.3 trillion, which is about $1 trillion more than the $6.3 trillion estimate in May.

This new report provides a good analysis of Pell Grant funding. Last year we were all surprised to find a surplus in the Pell program after worrying that we would be facing a shortfall. The good news from the CBO report is that the surplus is still here and it’s trending larger. The CBO sees Pell Grant costs coming in about $1.7 billion lower than originally expected for fiscal year 2014. It also revised costs in future years lower than what it projected last year by about $1 billion a year. All of those figures assume that Congress keeps the current eligibility rules for the program, including the maximum grant, as they are today. Based on the CBO report, the Pell program may not see a shortfall until FY2017. EdCentral provides a great analysis of the Pell Grant surplus and what it means for future years.

This is good news for the Pell Grant program and the students who rely on it to fund their education. Closing the Pell shortfall has been a priority agenda item for UW for the past couple of years and we will continue to advocate for fund funding.