NJCU Among Universities and Colleges Urging Congress to Increase Pell Grants

September 23, 2021
Students gather around a computer

JERSEY CITY, N.J. | New Jersey City University (NJCU) and President Sue Henderson has joined with 43 other higher educational leaders from two and four-year institutions in the state of New Jersey urging members of Congress to double the maximum Pell Grant award to $13,000 – up from the current maximum award of $6,495 – as they consider the next federal budget.

It would be the largest investment in students through federal student aid in decades.

“Doubling the maximum Pell Grant will help more students from low-and middle-income families to get to and through college,” the presidents wrote to members of the New Jersey congressional delegation. “Pell is a proven program, and in combination with other federal aid, state aid, and institutional grants, has provided millions of low-income students a wide array of postsecondary opportunities at both two-and four-year colleges and universities.”

After Pell Grants were created, they covered nearly 80 percent of attending a public four-year college, the letter notes. Pell now accounts for less than 30 percent of the cost of attendance.

“It is time for a dramatic recalibration of this vital program to restore the promise of Pell to make college possible for the next generation of postsecondary students,” the 44 university and community college presidents wrote.

In New Jersey, more than 150,000 students receive Pell Grants each year—including a clear majority of Black students and about half of Latinx students currently enrolled in college.

At NJCU, 3,367 undergraduate students – 58 percent – received $16,974,000 in Pell grants during the 2020-21 academic year.

NJCU is widely recognized and praised for its commitment to provide the highest quality education at the most affordable cost and has long been committed to affordability.  Our students leave with the least debt in the state and earn approximately 22% more than their peers 6 years after graduation. At NJCU, federal Pell grants and the NJ Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) are the two largest need-based grant programs our students access. In 2020, as in past years, students who were eligible for full Pell and full TAG had all of their full time in-state tuition covered by these two sources.

Those students who are not eligible for full Pell and full TAG support but get some support from both will be supported by other scholarship opportunities. Students who meet household income requirements are eligible for the NJCU Debt-Free Promise Program, which means that the University will cover the remaining cost of tuition so that these students leave with a high-quality education, and without the burden of debt as they begin their careers.

“We know there are other potential Pell recipients who believe a college education is beyond their means and thus do not even apply for this benefit,” the presidents wrote. “For those students, the wealth gap will only grow wider.”

A $13,000 maximum Pell Grant would fully cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and related expenses for New Jersey’s lowest income students attending public, two-year colleges.

“It is exciting and gratifying to see that Congress and the President have been considering ways to help make college more affordable,” the letter notes. “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, in addition to propelling economic prosperity and job growth.”

Read the full letter here.

About NJCU:
New Jersey City University is an institution of higher learning with an audacious goal: the development of our students, our city, our communities, our state, and the world beyond. We are a game-changing force for our students and their families. Whether our students are enrolled in one of our 50 undergraduate, 28 graduate or three doctoral programs, NJCU provides an affordable, diverse environment, and an exceptionally supportive faculty—all of which prepares them to be critical thinkers in a global landscape.

We’re also changing the game for our city, our communities, and our state. As the educational anchor institution in Jersey City, we’ve established partnerships to ensure the area’s growth directly benefits our students and community members. We seek to improve the lives of everyone in the Garden State, whether creating a home for the arts, bringing educational programs to K-12 students, offering bachelor’s degrees in partnership with community colleges, or providing professional development opportunities for adults.

At NJCU, we’re not just educating minds, we’re nourishing souls and lifting communities. We’re changing the game.


Ira Thor
, Senior Director of University Communications and Media Relations | ithor@njcu.edu | 201-200-3301

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