Confirmed victory
Petitioning U.S. Senate

Tell Congress: Don’t Make College More Expensive for Millions of Students

Victory! In late December 2010, Congress voted to extend a $2,500 tax credit for families who are paying for college until 2012. Not only that - federal Pell Grants escaped the budget ax as well with a temporary reprieve. They'll be fully funded until March 4, 2011. Read more at our victory blog post.

College will get a lot more expensive if Congress does not act soon to save two programs that help millions of Americans pay for education and training. The Pell Grant program currently faces a projected $5.7 billion budget shortfall that could shrink the maximum grant next year by a whopping $845; and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), a refundable credit worth up to $2,500 a year for college, is set to expire next month. These two programs are the most important tools we have to make college more affordable for low- and middle-income families, and they are both in grave danger.

Pell Grants help nearly 9 million students afford college and post-secondary job training.  Without a Pell Grant, many would not be able go to college or would have to take out more student loans. Failure to fill the projected $5.7 billion funding gap will mean hundreds of thousands of students will get no Pell Grant at all next year, and millions more will have their grants cut. If Congress lets the AOTC expire next month, millions of Americans struggling to pay for college will experience a tax increase, and millions more will lose the eligibility entirely. 

We can't go backwards and lose the crucial ground we've gained in just the past few years. Please send a message to your members of Congress TODAY, urging them to make college affordability a top priority in the current  "lame-duck" legislative session.

Photo credit: Steven DePolo via Flickr

Letter to
U.S. Senate
I am writing to urge you to make college affordability a top priority in the lame-duck session, by funding the projected $5.7 billion Pell Grant shortfall, and extending and improving the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). These vital programs make college possible for millions of Americans, and swift action from Congress is necessary to keep students in school and our economy on the road to recovery.

Pell Grants help nearly nine million students and families afford college and post-secondary job training, but the current shortfall would leave hundreds of thousands without a grant and could reduce the maximum award by a whopping $845 next year, forcing many to drop out of school.

The AOTC helped more than eight million students and their families last year, and must not be allowed to expire this year. If Congress lets the AOTC expire, millions of Americans struggling to pay for college will experience a tax increase, and millions more will lose their eligibility entirely. The partially refundable AOTC is more valuable, covers more educational expenses, and helps more families than the nonrefundable Hope Scholarship Credit it replaced. Not only should the AOTC be made permanent, but this is also an important opportunity to improve it. About a million students – mostly at community colleges – are not currently eligible for the AOTC despite having financial need. I urge you to support a permanent AOTC that is coordinated with Pell Grants so that more students with financial need can benefit appropriately from both programs.

Making these important investments will yield significant economic returns. Families need all the help they can get right now, and Pell Grants stimulate the economy as students use them to pay for books and other college expenses in addition to their classes. Enabling students to stay in school and finish their education strengthens our workforce and makes the U.S. more competitive.

Please do everything in your power to ensure that Pell Grants are fully funded and a stronger AOTC is made permanent before the end of the year. Millions of Americans are counting on you.

The Institute for College Access & Success started this petition with a single signature, and won with 619 supporters. Start a petition to change something you care about.