Rep. Carbajal Unveils Updated Bill to Expand Pell Grant, Improve College Affordability

Source: Office of Rep. Salud Carbajal

Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal announced updated legislation to expand the Pell Grant and improve college affordability for students across California and the U.S. alongside students and staff from University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly).

Congressman Carbajal’s Degrees Not Debt Act would double the maximum Pell Grant award to $13,800 a year, decreasing the amount of burdensome student loan debt for individuals pursuing higher education.

“American college students owe nearly $2 trillion in student loans, and the tools that we have to prevent students from taking on additional debt to complete their education aren’t keeping up with the rising costs of higher education-even at our public colleges and universities,” said Congressman Carbajal. “As someone who was the first in his family to graduate college and someone who relied on Pell and other federal aid to earn that degree, I know it’s unacceptable that the value of these programs have eroded in recent years. The numbers don’t lie: Pell needs a dramatic overhaul. That’s why I’ve renewed my push to double the maximum Pell Grant award to improve Pell’s ability to cover the costs of a modern education, and I’m pleased to have universal support from the Central Coast’s student organizations as well as many of our colleges and universities.”

Congressman Carbajal was joined by Central Coast students to share their own experiences with the Pell Grant and their support for the legislation.

“The Pell Grant… enabled me to get myself back in school. The Pell Grant gave me more time to focus on school and spend a little more time with my kids. It also helped me put gas in my car…purchase more nutritious groceries, and buy books and supplies I needed for school,” said Angela Bradley, a single mother and sociology major at UC Santa Barbara. “Even with the help of the Pell Grant, I had to use my credit cards to supplement the other needs of my family. If the Pell Grant were doubled the amount that it is today, it would enable me to get through school with less stress, less debt, and more time to earn my degree in a timely manner…it could also offset the rising cost of food and gasoline.”

“As a first-generation college student…the Pell Grant has greatly helped me achieve my goals. Thanks to the federal Pell Grant…[my] loans were definitely diminished, which helped me and my mom and all our worries,” said Sara Steichen, a political science major graduating this year from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “With that being said, the current amount that the Pell Grant has to offer does not fully cover all my tuition and dorm costs…if the federal Pell Grant had been doubled before I attended Cal Poly, I would be able to spend next year solely prioritizing my career goals. College has become increasingly accessible thanks to various programs like the Pell Grant, but there is still so much more work that can be done to make college education accessible to people across various socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Carbajal was also joined by Saúl Quiroz, Director of the UCSB Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

The Degrees Not Debt Act has the endorsement of the Associated Students of UC Santa Barbara, and the Cal State Student Association, as well as the University of California system, the California State University system, Allan Hancock College, Cuesta College, and Santa Barbara City College.

Last year, student loan debt in the U.S. totaled more than $1.7 trillion–nearly twice the total credit card debt held by Americans. Californians hold the largest amount of student loan debt of any state, $141 billion, with an average student loan debt of $37,000 per borrower.

Over seven million students across the county rely on Pell Grant to cover the costs of their higher education. But the current maximum Pell Grant award, $6,895, only covers about one-third of the average tuition at a public four-year college.

Carbajal’s legislation, which he has introduced previously to increase the Pell Grant, was revised this year to double the current level of Pell Grants available.

Congressman Carbajal’s vote in the House earlier this year helped raise the maximum Pell award from $6,495 to $6,895 for the 2022-2023 award year.

Congressman Carbajal joined more than 100 Democrats in Congress in March in a letter urging President Joe Biden to extend the moratorium on student loan payments until December and to provide meaningful student debt cancellation.

Rep. Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th congressional district, encompassing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and part of Ventura County. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee, Agriculture Committee, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.


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  1. I’m curious – do Pell Grants cover costs related to technical trade educations such as construction, plumbing, welding and the like? I ask because it seems we have problems dealing with human waste going into the right hole and no whizz-bang App is going to help with that problem.

  2. Who will even notice a few billion more dollars of debt on top of the Trillions already committed. Seems most people don’t realize that government debt devalues the dollars they earn and save. I’m afraid it is a black hole.

  3. It is high-end GOP thought like this that has bled our educational system into a shambles. So much so that tech jobs need to be outsourced overseas. There are companies right now struggling to find engineers, programmers, scientists – and are paying very well. But alas, please do go find the right hole.

  4. Parvo – it would have taken you less time to google the answer you were asking than typing out your question. Unless maybe you were dealing with human waste at the time. Yes – Pell Grants can be applied to trade schools.,Application%20for%20Federal%20Student%20Aid.

  5. The increased pell grant is just so that they can get some gas (Because of the outrageous price of gas)in their car now ,should be able to drive a little ways to school. And Salud is getting patted on the back for this? When’s he going to talk about what his parties doing giving $40 billion away and our leaders not even talking on TV

  6. GOP has no control or power in CA GT, so how exactly has “GOP thought like this” bled our educational system into a shambles? According to your logic, with no GOP influence in CA our educational system should be best in the nation, but it’s not…

  7. Who pays for this? Just another tax-and-spend idea from our Dem rep. Why not focus on reducing costs of higher education? Universities are top heavy with unnecessary, high paying administrative positions.

  8. “our educational system” – GT. And if that reference is to the nation vs. the state, then by that logic, CA should have the top educational system in the country because there is zero GOP influence here. But we’re not, not even close, so it’s just more political BS rhetoric being spewed, separated from reality.

  9. “our” means our country. It’s blatantly obvious he’s speaking in general terms. Funny, because you always try to chastise me for nitpicking one or two words in your comments….. Hi Pot, meet Kettle….

  10. 100% JOEG, while increased grants/scholarships are great and beneficial, they also help Universities continue charged more and more for an education that yields less and less value in the workforce. Addressing the exorbitant cost of higher education would not only save the tax payers money but benefit everyone seeking a higher education.

  11. Well first K-12 is State not Federal. But okay, now address the “if that reference is to the nation…” part. The part that asks if the GOP is the reason our [national] education system is in shambles, why in CA with supermajority DNC in full and total control, why is CA’s education system also in shambles? By your and GT’s logic, we should have the best educational system in the country because there is zero GOP influence here (which apparently is totally horrible and the cause of not only our national woes but our CA woes as well).

  12. To follow up, now, and many many times over the past 15 years, the Dems have had the White House and control of the Senate and House. If it was all the GOP’s fault, whey didn’t / aren’t the Dems fixing it?

  13. VOR GOP “thought like this” in response to the comment the poster made – unsure how you’ve twisted it – and think you are the arbiter of the conversation, and now make it about you. But you do you. Republicans have dummed down education to the toilet level – across the nation.

  14. This is the false premise: “It is high-end GOP thought like this that has bled our educational system into a shambles”. – GT, and this “Republicans have dummed [sic] down education to the toilet level – across the nation.” – GT. Neither of which explain why in Dem supermajority CA, isolated from any local or federal GOP interference, is educational system middle of the road – AT BEST. Neither of you have, nor can answer that, you just deflect deflect and misconstrue. So, how exactly have the GOP “dummed [sic]” California’s educational system?

  15. “So, how exactly have the GOP “dummed [sic]” California’s educational system?” Again….. no one said they did. GT was talking about our education system in general. Stop lying about peoples comments and demanding they answer your questions about the lies you made up.

  16. Yes – just destabilize Europe. The same seclusionist thought sparked two world wars. Don’t get involved – MAGA. The GOP is continually trying to destroy the world because of their phony “Christian” beliefs tell them not to care and just succumb to the apocalypse and the second coming of Christ. They waive their American flags in the process and you you call yourselves patriots. Eat your fried foods, dumb down your children, ruin the environment, be bigoted racists – but not to worry – Jesus will save when the world ends. Pathetic.

  17. GT, destabilizing Europe is exactly what we (the US) did in 2014 when we got involved in the Ukrainian coup and installed a Western friendly government. Could you image what the US would do if Russia participated in a Mexican coup and installed a Moscow friendly government? We rolled tanks into Baghdad for much less (which lead to the deaths of 200,000 civilians from direct war related violence). We are not on a high horse.

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