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    President Marina Op-Ed About Doubling Pell Grant

    The Scranton Times-Tribune published an editorial by University of Scranton President, Rev. Joseph Marina, S.J., about doubling the Pell Grant.
    September 8, 2021

    The Scranton Times-Tribune published the following editorial by University of Scranton President, Rev. Joseph Marina, S.J., about doubling the Pell Grant.

    Like the Class of 2025, I too am a newcomer to The University of Scranton, deeply grateful to serve as its 29th President. Over the summer, some of my first meetings involved joining with my fellow Jesuit college presidents in advocating for Congressional legislative proposals to further assist college students with financial need. Affordability and access are a priority for the University as I look ahead to the future of higher education in our country.

    Throughout my career, which has involved several colleges and universities, I have been consistently impressed with the drive and determination of Pell Grant recipient students. The Pell Grant program, established in 1972 with bi-partisan support, provides a grant from the federal government to assist students with financial need complete their undergraduate degrees. Since the program started, increases in the grant have not kept pace. Nearly 50 years ago, Pell grants covered more than three-quarters of the cost of attending a four-year public college. Today, Pell covers just one-third

    Now is the time to double the Pell grant to $13,000. We need to make an historic investment in Pell Grants, one that will help a new generation of students complete their undergraduate careers with less economic stress and immediately contribute to the American workforce. Doubling Pell will increase access to higher education for students, allowing them to choose the right school for them – public or private. This longstanding program assists students with the greatest need and reduces heavy borrowing – directing taxpayer dollars to those who need it most. Nearly 70 percent of Pell Grant dollars go to students with a family income at $30,000 or below, as reported by the U.S. Department of Education (for the 2018-2019 year)

    In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the network of private colleges and universities, including The University of Scranton, makes a big impact. Our sector educates 51% of all students and 44% of low-income students. These schools’ 6-year graduation rates among all students average 74%. At the University of Scranton, our graduation rates are as high as 84.4%, much higher than national averages.

    At the University, Pell students make up 22% of our total student body. These students benefit from our Catholic, Jesuit education, steeped in the humanities, and can choose from a wide array of liberal arts, science, business, and professional degrees. At the same time, the entire University benefits from the experience and perspectives they bring to our campus. We are proud to have strong Pell graduation rates at 72%, also exceeding national averages and aligning very closely with our overall graduation rate.

    Non-completion of college can be a life-altering event; doubling Pell is a time-tested strategy to boost degree completion.

    As a leader of a Catholic, Jesuit institution, I support doubling the Pell Grant as a tool for greater equity and as a way to empower students while opening the doors of opportunity. At the University, we are also doing our part to address affordability and access – through scholarships and additional financial aid programs, a unique “Book and Supply” award, and financial counseling programs.

    We also know that Pell offers a strong return on investment. College graduates consistently earn higher wages than individuals with only a high school diploma. And yet in Northeastern Pennsylvania, higher education attainment still lags from statewide and national averages. While 22.2% in Scranton have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau reporting, in Pennsylvania overall that percentage is significantly higher at 31.4%.

    Doubling Pell is one important way for the U.S. Congress to assist the students who need support the most and ensure that our country can be successful in the 21st century. Right now, Congress is making decisions about how to spend resources next year. So please reach out to your members of Congress and visit www.doublepell.org to make your voice heard.

     

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