February 14, 2007 | News from the Chancellor
Chancellor’s Letter for Federal Representatives
I write to request your support for enhanced funding for Pell Grants. As you know, the current maximum award has remained unchanged for the past four years. During this time, however, the costs facing students-including textbook costs-have increased. As the Associated Press has reported, the grants have lost much of their buying power: 20 years ago, maximum Pell Grants covered about 60 percent of the average published price of attending a public four-year university; in 2005-06, the same grants covered just one-third of that cost. Therefore I seek your support to augment Pell Grants for FY’08 to a maximum of $5,000 annually, with future increases to be made in keeping with economic indicators such as the Consumer Price Index or the Higher Education Price Index.
We recognize and appreciate ongoing Congressional legislation that may increase Pell Grant funding. We also recognize that the budget for FY’08 that President Bush recently released calls for similar increases. At CUNY, we appreciate in particular that the President’s plan will offer significant funds-an additional $40 million-to our 95,000 students who receive Pell Grants.
While we may not agree on the proposed means by which such increases may be financed, the recognition that Pell Grant awards must be augmented to assist students in attaining their college degrees is a positive development. Pell Grants enable their recipients to pursue the postsecondary education that is vital to their future participation in the competitive global workforce; these students graduate to become highly productive, taxpaying citizens.
I know you share my concern for our college and university students and their futures, and I am deeply grateful for your thoughtful work on their behalf. I hope I can count on your support of measures to assure that their participation in higher education remains a national priority.