Three Utah Congressmen want to expand access to Pell Grants

Aug 3, 2023, 4:50 PM

WASHINGTON D.C. – A letter written by several members of the House of Representatives shows increasing support in Congress for expanding short-term Pell Grants to online education institutions.

The letter included bipartisan support, with Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries leading the effort. Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, and Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, joined 16 other representatives to show support.

Congressional support for Pell Grants

In the letter, the Representatives described those they felt would greatly benefit by expanding eligibility for Pell Grants.

“A significant number of learners are part of a diverse group of individuals who are left behind by traditional higher educational program design, which ties learning to time and place. These learners are often over the age of 22, work at least part-time, are likely paying for school independently, or have limited discretionary budgets.”

Rep. Burgess Owens told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic that, after COVID, many people were thinking about new careers. And he said they were looking at the option that provided the best return on their investment.


“We don’t all have to go to a four-year or six-year college. We can find things early in our life that we want to just pursue, we want to get there with certification, we can make sure we’re competent in those particular areas,” he said.

Owens said that the programs they’d like to see eligible for Pell Grants would need to prove their value.

“They have to have metrics of quality of success. For-profit vocational and technical schools, in order to get any type of support, they have to show that things are working,” said Owens.

Owens also said he wants to see more people accessing certificate programs. Including trucking, cosmetology, or dentistry programs. 

“We should be able to find a way for folks to get their degrees, go out there and fill those niches, and it’s a win-win for everybody, for our society, for those who are trying to get their dreams accomplished, and for the institutions that are providing value,” said Owens.

What is a Pell Grant?

Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students who can prove they are in financial need and have not earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree. Unlike a loan, a Federal Pell Grant does not have to be paid back.

The amount given to applicants is dependent on the Expected Family Contribution, costs to attend school, the status of the student, and whether the student plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

The maximum award for this school year is $7,395.

According to Education Data Initiative, 34% of undergraduate students receive a Pell Grant nationwide. The biggest majority of Pell Grant funds goes to students whose families earn less than $20,000 annually. Utah has 125,681 students who have received a grant, with an average award of $5,008 per recipient.

To apply, you need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid


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Three Utah Congressmen want to expand access to Pell Grants