The cost of higher education is an important issue for students, college administrators and elected legislative officials.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Education, took time to visit colleges across the state to give an update on Pell Grants and other government funding for college students.
On May 3, Blunt held a press conference at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park. He explained that the FY2018 government funding bill, signed in March, has a provision to raise the maximum award for Pell Grants to $6,095, an increase of $175. In Missouri, one-third of all college students, approximately 130,000, receive Pell Grants. The FY18 bill also continues year-round Pell Grants, which is expected to help one million students across the country, including 20,000 in Missouri, attend college continuously.
STLCC students Sylvia Haughton and Abdul-Gafar Olubugun spoke at the press event to share their personal stories of how year-round Pell Grants impact their college experience. For both, it’s an opportunity to continue their career and degree goals.
Blunt noted other key points in the government funding bill, such as:
- A $60 million increase for TRIO to help low-income and first-generation students get into and complete college;
- A $75 million increase for career and technical education state grants that support programs at the high school and post-secondary level;
- A $140 million increase for federal work study allocated to colleges and universities to make need-based awards, through part-time employment, to students;
- A $107 million increase for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants to colleges and universities that make need-based grants of up to $4,000 to students;
- A $35 million increase, more than tripling funding, for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program to support campus-based child care programs for students with children.
The bill also helped address issues in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, including for teachers and first responders, to cover borrowers who would otherwise be eligible for loan forgiveness but were enrolled in an ineligible repayment plan.