Alexander Votes for Bill to Restore Year-Round Pell Grants, Calling it “the Most Important News for College Students from Congress So Far This Year”

Legislation also contains an additional $2 billion to support “breathtaking advances in biomedical research at NIH”

WASHINGTON, June 9 – Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today voted for the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which restores year-round Pell grant availability, and provides additional support for advances in biomedical research.

“If passed by the full senate, this will be the most important news for college students out of the Congress so far this year. I voted for this legislation today because it restores year-round Pell grants, helping an estimated one million students take the opportunity to graduate sooner and with less debt,” said Alexander. “I am now hopeful that when we get to the end of the year we will have also simplified the dreaded student aid form and reinstituted the year-round Pell grant—two of the major recommendations in the bipartisan FAST Act.”

Senator Alexander continued, “I’d also like to congratulate Senators Blunt and Murray for doing a terrific job within the budget caps, of placing a priority for the second year in a row, support for breathtaking advances in biomedical research at the NIH. In the Senate health committee we’re continuing our parallel effort to secure a surge of funding for five specific projects that Dr. Collins has outlined at NIH, to take advantage of this exciting time in science.”

In the FAST Act introduced last year, Alexander and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) proposed allowing students to use Pell grants year-round, to provide flexibility so students can study at their own pace. These provisions would enable students to complete college sooner.

At the subcommittee markup of the legislation earlier this week, Alexander noted that the Education Department has also announced it will implement another provision of the bipartisan FAST Act, which is to allow families to use information from the tax return they filed last year when filling out the FAFSA student aid application.

The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations legislation includes funding for the following education priorities:

The bill increases the maximum Pell award from $5,815 to $5,935 and restores the year-round Pell grant program.

$1.8 million is included for the Presidential and Congressional History Teaching Academies.

$343 million is included for Charter Schools, a $10 million increase over the FY16 enacted level.

The bill includes funding for the following health priorities:

$2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health

$5 million increase for the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education program

The bill includes $250 million for the BRAIN Initiative at NIH, which is $100 million more than the FY16 enacted level.

Funding for public health preparedness including BARDA, Bioshield and the Strategic National Stockpile is included at FY16 enacted levels.

Community Health Centers are funded at a total level of $5.09 billion which is equal to the FY16 enacted level.

The Child Care and Development Block program is funded at $2.8 billion, which is a $25 million increase over the FY 16 enacted level.

Head Start is funded at $9.2 billion, which is an increase of $35 million


For access to this release and Chairman Alexander’s other statements, click here.

Press Contact

Margaret Atkinson / Jim Jeffries (Alexander): 202-224-0387