WASHINGTON, DC – Today, as the federal Pell Grant, created by U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI) celebrates its golden anniversary, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is joining with students, educators, and families across the nation in proclaiming that Pell grants have proven to be worth their weight in gold.


Fifty years ago today, on June 23, 1972, the Pell grant program was launched to help make the dream of a college education more affordable and accessible for millions of American students.


This week, Senator Reed joined with students and higher education advocates to mark the 50th anniversary and call on Congress to boost annual appropriations in the program, which is a strong investment in students, communities, and the future of the American workforce.


Today, Senator Reed stated:


“Through his steadfast leadership and the creation of Pell grants, Senator Pell transformed the lives of millions of Americans.  Today, we honor his legacy and redouble our commitment to build on the success of Pell grants and strengthen the program for future generations.


“Almost everyone knows someone who benefitted from Pell grants and Senator Pell’s work. 


“In fact, since 1972, Pell grants have delivered financial assistance to more than 80 million students, helping them afford college and earn their degree. 


“Senator Pell’s efforts opened the doors of higher education to people who previously couldn’t afford it.


Senator Pell liked to say that “Any student with the talent, desire, and drive should be able to pursue higher education.”


“And he worked hard at expanding opportunities – especially in education – to strengthen our nation and empower people to achieve their full potential.


“Today, the Pell Grant remains the flagship federal student aid program.  And it continues to serve as a crucial rung on the ladder of opportunity for hardworking people: helping them afford college, and helping ensure America remains productive and prosperous.


“Now it is our responsibility to ensure that Pell Grants retain their impact and purchasing power.


“Back in the 1970s, it covered about three-quarters of the cost of attendance at a public 4-year college.  Today, it covers less than one-third.


“So let’s commit to doubling Pell grants.  And continue to do our part to meet the needs of students today, tomorrow, and for the next fifty years.”