Washington, DC – This past week, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced legislation that would help protect low income students from being taxed on using their Pell Grants for non-tuition purposes. He is joined in introducing the bipartisan Pell Grant Flexibility Act (H.R. 3581) by his Republican colleagues Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Thomas MacArthur (NJ-3), and Peter King (NY-2) as well as 22 leading education organizations.
“Outside of the obvious cost of tuition, the price of attending college includes housing, transportation to campus, having supplies like textbooks and notebooks as well as other items such as stable childcare. In order to give our students the best shot at success, this bill makes Pell grants more flexible so students can focus more on their learning than on their wallets,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.
Federal Pell Grants can be used to cover both tuition and non-tuition expenses. When Pell Grants are used for strictly tuition expenses, the subsidy is not taxed. However, under current law, when students use these funds for non-tuition expenses, such as housing, books, transportation, and school supplies, their Pell Grant is taxed. The Pell Grant Flexibility Act makes this change so that every dollar can be invested in a student’s education. Each year approximately eight million students receive Pell Grant funding—a majority of whom have family incomes under $40,000 per year, and typically borrow higher amounts of student loans.
“Many public school teachers rely on Pell Grants to afford college and earn a degree. By allowing students to use Pell Grant funding for college-related expenses other than tuition, such as child care and transportation, many more low-and middle-income students will be able to attend classes and graduate with degrees. Furthermore, with ongoing threats to the Pell Grant program allowing access to Pell Grant funding on a tax-free basis is critical. I commend Rep. DeSaulnier for once again introducing the Pell Grant Flexibility Act,” said Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations, National Education Association (NEA).
The complete list of education organizations supporting the bill include: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO); American Association of Community Colleges (AACC); American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU); American Association of University Women (AAUW); Association of American Universities (AAU); Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU); Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU); Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU); Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Consumer Action; Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD); Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU); Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP); National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC); National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU); National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA); National College Access Network (NCAN); National Education Association (NEA); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS); United Negro College Fund (UNCF); Young Invincibles