Tester backs boost in student financial aid

Senator helps increase maximum Pell Grant to make college more affordable, boost U.S. economy

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is strengthening student financial aid to help make college affordable for Montana students and grow the nation’s economy.

Tester, a former teacher, is backing a Senate bill that raises the maximum Pell Grant from $5,550 to $5,635.  Pell Grants helped 25,735 Montana students pay for college last year.

Tester, who sharply criticized the U.S. House of Representatives for “irresponsibly” trying to slash Pell Grants last year, said that making higher education more accessible boosts Montanans’ quality of life.

“Strengthening Pell Grants opens more classroom doors to Montanans,” said Tester. “Greater access to higher education improves lives and helps build our economy.  That’s why I’m always going to fight to make college more affordable for all Montanans."

Tester took to the Senate floor in November to speak about Pell Grants.  He highlighted a Montana man whose health issues and the economy forced him to leave his job of 26 years, then trained for a new career with the help of a Pell Grant.

“He was able to get a Pell Grant, go back to school on a part-time basis, and study for a job in the culinary arts where he could support his family,” Tester said.  “Without those Pell Grants, he would have possibly been on workman’s comp or making far less money.”

In 1976, the first year that Pell Grants were fully-funded, they covered 72 percent of the cost of attending a four-year public university.  Today, they pay for just 32 percent of the cost.

Tester supported the Pell Grant increase as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  A recently proposed House budget would have cut Pell Grants by $3.6 billion.

Video of Tester speaking about Pell Grants on the Senate floor is available HERE.