Press Release

July 20, 2007
College Students Could See Their Pell Grants Increase by Almost $1,000 a Year by 2011


U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin,
D-MD, today praised Senate passage of bipartisan legislation to boost college aid by $17 billion, saying it will “make it possible for more students to realize the American Dream of attending college.”
  He stressed that today, 60% of all new jobs require some post-secondary education and “this bill will help ensure that our students have the education they need to follow their dreams, and our nation has the skilled workforce that is required to compete in the global economy.”



Higher Education Access Act
, H.R. 2669, will result in the biggest increase in college aid since passage of the G.I. Bill in 1944.
  Senator Cardin stressed that in the last 20 years, Congress has failed to adequately fund college aid programs.


“Twenty years ago, the maximum Pell Grant covered 55% of costs at a public four-year college. Today it covers less than a third of those costs.
  As a result, more than 400,000 students who qualify for college cannot attend because it is too expensive.
  Those who do attend, on average, graduate with more than $19,000 in student loan debt.
  This bill will help us reverse those disturbing statistics,” said Senator Cardin.


“Growing barriers to higher education have a profound effect on our nation and often affect the most basic life choices of college graduates,” said the Senator.
  “College graduates often cannot pursue jobs in the public sector because they typically pay less than private-sector jobs
  and too many college graduates are strapped with large debt.”


Specifically, Senator Cardin pointed to the fact that our nation is currently experiencing a teacher shortage, particularly in rural and high-poverty areas.
  He has introduced the

Master Teacher Act
, S. 1282, which would provide teachers who are deemed “highly qualified” with a 25% federal tax exemption if they agree to teach in schools that are not meeting the Annual Yearly Progress targets as defined by the

No Child Left Behind Act.



Higher Education Access Act


  • Raise the maximum Pell Grant from its current $4,310 to $5,400 by 2011;

  • Protect borrowers by capping monthly loan payments at 15% of discretionary income;

  • Protect working students and ensure they are not penalized by increasing the amount of student income that is sheltered from the financial aid process;

  • Encourage public service by providing loan forgiveness for public service employees; and,

  • Hold colleges accountable for rising costs by publicizing colleges whose cost increases exceed those of their peers. This will help ensure that students and parents have access to objective data about the cost of college.


A similar measure has already passed the House of Representatives.