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Eisgruber, other NJ college presidents urge Congress to double maximum Pell Grant

<h6>Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

On Sept. 22, President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 and Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway co-authored a letter to the New Jersey Congressional Delegation urging them to double the maximum Pell Grant. A total of 44 presidents of New Jersey colleges and universities signed the letter.

The Pell Grant is a federal program that provides financial assistance for low- and middle-income students. According to the letter, 7 million students, including more than 150,000 New Jersey students, receive Pell Grants each year. For those students, a majority of whom are Black and Latinx, the Pell Grant enables them to pursue higher education and receive college degrees.

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“A college degree is a hugely important tool of social mobility that opens a wide range of opportunities for careers that can transform the lives of students and their families,” the letter reads.

However, when Congress introduced the Pell Grant, it covered nearly 80 percent of the cost of attendance at a public four-year college. Currently, the maximum Pell Grant is $6,495, which is less than 30 percent of the cost of attendance.

“Doubling the maximum Pell Grant will help more students from low- and middle-income families to get to and through college. That helps everyone: by cultivating talent from every sector of society, we make our state, and our country, stronger and better,” the letter states.

Eisgruber argued for the importance of Pell Grants in an email to The Daily Princetonian.

“I support the doubling of Pell because I know that a college education is a rocket booster for students from low-income and middle-income families,” he wrote. “Increasing the Pell grant will enable these students to get the educations they deserve, and it will enable our campuses and our country to benefit from the talent they bring.”

Low-income Princeton students recognize the value of the Pell Grant. In a post for the President’s blog, Cassidy Barnes ’22 wrote about how the Pell Grant changes the lives of students.

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“For many students, it's federal financial aid in the form of the Pell Grant that makes their college career possible,” she wrote. “If Congress doubled the Pell Grant maximum amount … over 80 percent of [public four-year] universities would become affordable to those with Pell Grants, as compared with 25 percent now.”

In an interview with the ‘Prince’, Sebastian Aguilar ’25 expressed his gratitude for the Pell Grant.

“As a Questbridge Scholar, I received the maximum Pell Grant. My parents can’t afford all of my education expenses, and the Pell Grant is giving me the opportunity to get an education at Princeton,” he said.

Aguilar also commented on Eisgruber’s letter in favor of doubling the maximum Pell Grant.

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“I think that President Eisgruber is doing a really good job by advocating for this policy because it helps so many students. It shows that he cares about what disadvantaged students are dealing with,” he said.

Editor-in-Chief Emma Treadway ’22 contributed reporting to this piece.

Desmond Lam is a news contributor for the Prince.He can be reached at dl2015@princeton.edu.

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