Tester announces college affordability legislation at annual Montana Board of Regents meeting

Senator sponsors bill to reinstate year-round Pell grants

(Bozeman, Mont.) – The average Montana college graduate is leaving school with $27,000 of debt, and Senator Jon Tester is sponsoring legislation to help change that.

During an annual Montana Board of Regents meeting Tester unveiled his Middle Class CHANCE Act which will restore year-round Pell Grants and allow Pell Grant recipients to receive tuition assistance for up to 15 semesters rather than just 12.

“Pell Grants help students afford college, setting them up for success when they graduate and join the workforce,” Tester, a former teacher, told the Board of Regents. “It’s time for Congress to step up and make the investment, because when we have a more educated workforce everyone benefits.”

Tester’s bill will also increase the maximum Pell Grant award from $5,775 to $9,140 to bring the amount students can receive in line with the national average of in-state tuition costs for four-year, public schools.

Currently students can only receive Pell Grants for two of the three terms during each school year, which often forces students to borrow more money or prevents them from completing their degrees more quickly. It also causes some students to drop out entirely.

Since year-round Pell Grants ended in 2012, the Montana University System has seen summer enrollment decline by over 15 percent.

Pell Grants are awarded to students with high financial need and do not need to be repaid. Students who receive Pell Grants are more than twice as likely as their peers to have student loans.

When Tester graduated from college in 1978, Pell Grants covered three-quarters of the average cost of attending a four-year, public school. Today Pell Grants only cover one-third of a student’s costs of attending college.

Tester’s Middle Class CHANCE Act is available HERE.