Current Pell Grant Provisions Will Not Build Back Better for Low-Income and Non-Traditional Students

ACI has learned that the current iteration of the Build Back Better plan politicizes Pell Grants, a long an effective means for allowing low-income Americans access to a quality education. Under the proposed changes, nearly one million students who use their Pell Grants to attend proprietary and career colleges would be excluded from the access to the $550 planned increase.

Some policymakers have sought to insert provisions like this into large bills as part of a long running campaign against career and proprietary colleges, often at the expense of students. As ACI noted in a recent ConsumerGram, these efforts are misguided, and harm students. 

Our research reveals that career and proprietary institutions provide significant educational and economic opportunities to minority and non-traditional students, and those who would otherwise be denied access to education. We also found that students who attend these schools do as well or better than they would at comparable institutions. As we noted then:

“Cracking down on proprietary educational institutions could present a twofold problem. Firstly, it will deny them the considerable economic opportunity that an education at a proprietary institution can provide. Secondly, further regulating proprietary institutions might force students to attend other modes of education that have comparable or worse educational outcomes.”


If enacted, these provisions would make it more difficult for low-income Americans to choose the education that best suits them, contradicting the very purpose of Pell. Limiting opportunities for these students in service of a political agenda diminishes their ability to participate in our skills-based economy. We urge the Senate to remove these provisions.

Our ConsumerGram is available online.

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