Education A Washington Roundup

House Backs Bill on Pell Grant Rule

By Alyson Klein — March 06, 2007 1 min read

The House approved a measure last week that would abolish a provision in the Higher Education Act reducing Pell Grant scholarships for certain students who chose to attend lower-cost colleges.

The measure, called the Pell Grant Equity Act, was sponsored by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the panel’s ranking member. It passed the House on Feb. 27 by a voice vote.

The bill would repeal the “tuition sensitivity” rule in calculating Pell Grants, which requires the Department of Education to take a student’s tuition into account when calculating how much Pell Grant money for which they are eligible.

Under the rule, a student who is attending a community college could receive a smaller grant than a student attending a private university, even if both come from families with similar income levels.

Reps. Miller and McKeon said in a statement that the rule unfairly penalizes students who choose less expensive colleges, since Pell Grant money can also be used for books, transportation, room, board, and other expenses.

The legislation would apply only to the 2007-08 academic year, but both lawmakers say they will seek to make the fix permanent when Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act, scheduled for this year.

A version of this article appeared in the March 07, 2007 edition of Education Week