FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2023
Contact: Caitlin Reedy
Press Office: 202-224-2834
Senator Murray Visits Everett Community College, Discusses Pell Grant Funding Boost She Secured With Students and Staff
From left to right: From WSU Everett- Brandon M. Buckingham, Program Coordinator, Student Affairs; Dr. Paul Pitre, Chancellor; Elena Cervantes, ISC senior; Senator Patty Murray; From EvCC- Eric Wood, welding & fabrication senior; Dr. Darrell L. Cain, President; Jessica Mudd, studio arts student; Anita Radcliff, Interim Director, Financial Aid & Scholarships.
***PHOTOS OF THE EVENT HERE***
ICYMI: Senator Murray Secures Historic Investments for Working Families and Washington State in End of Year Funding Package – MORE HERE
Senator Murray: “We all know a higher education can open new doors and opportunities for students, which is why it is so important we make sure the doors to higher education itself are open to everyone.”
(Everett, WA) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) hosted a roundtable discussion with Pell Grant recipients, financial aid advisors, and leaders from Everett Community College (EvCC) and Washington State University (WSU) Everett to discuss the $500 increase to the maximum Pell Grant she secured in the end-of-year funding and her continued push to fix the broken student loan system and put a higher education into reach for everyone. The $500 increase to the maximum Pell Grant Senator Murray secured is the largest increase in over a decade and builds on the $400 increase she securedin the last funding package. Last Congress, Senator Murray also reintroduced the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act, which would double the Pell Grant award, index it to inflation, and make other critical changes to expand the award for working students and families.
“We all know a higher education can open new doors and opportunities for students, which is why it is so important we make sure the doors to higher education itself are open to everyone, especially those who are struggling to make ends meet—people who know it could change their life, but just don’t know if they can afford it. That was my family growing up,” said Senator Murray.
“It was thanks to federal support, like Pell Grants, that my siblings and I were able to go to college and get a higher education—every one of us graduated college with some help. That’s why I’m constantly fighting to increase the Pell Grant, and I’m pleased to say we made big progress in the bipartisan omnibus we passed last year—with a $500 increase to the maximum Pell Grant,” added Senator Murray.“But I’m not done fighting yet—which is why I’m here today. I look forward to continuing to push every way I can to get you the support you need, fix our student loan system, and help put a higher education within reach for everyone.”
“The increase of the Pell Grant award helps to open even wider the doors to higher education for many of our students,” said Darrell L. Cain, interim president at Everett Community College. “It is a vital step toward creating a more equitable and just society. I’m grateful to Sen. Murray for her leadership and dedication to helping students.”
“This means more money going to our students that doesn’t need to be repaid, and that is a great start,” said Anita Radliff, EvCC’s interim director of financial aid and scholarships. “But we can’t stop there. Doubling the maximum Pell grant will make the biggest impact and reduce the amount of loans students need to cover the cost of their education, particularly for students of color and students experiencing poverty.”
“After being homeless for many years and struggling with addiction and alcoholism, I went back to school earning my GED, which was a huge accomplishment because I never thought I would ever have a GED,” said Eric Wood, EvCC welding and fabrication student. “Someone told me to apply for financial aid so I could continue my education, and now thanks to financial aid including the Pell grant, I am able to pursue a career and provide for my family. By going back to school I’m able to set an example for my kids and everyone else that if you put your mind to something you can do it.”
“The Pell grant has provided me the opportunity to pursue my career and education goals, while also maintaining an active role in the care of my child and elderly family members,” said Jessica Mudd, EvCC studio arts student.
“My path into higher education is often labeled as ‘non-traditional’, but it’s a familiar journey to many. Access to a secondary education wouldn’t have been possible without Pell grant funding and non-loan financial assistance,” said Elena Cervantes, a senior at WSU Everett. “Pell grant funding is helpful, but it has the potential to be even more impactful. A financially accessible education will positively impact a student, but the ripple effect it can create in a community will last generations.”
“Accessibility and understanding of financial aid remain a substantial roadblock for many students in pursuing their educational aspirations,” said Brandon M. Buckingham, Program Coordinator of Student Affairs at WSU Everett. “This $500 increase to the Pell Grant is a victory that I am excited to be able to share with prospective students as a clear indicator that there is continued support out there for them, that can help them achieve their goals.”
Senator Murray has long fought to help students afford a higher education—and make the student loan system work for them. As outgoing Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray consistently fought to make Pell Grants go further for students—securing a $500 boost this year for a $7,395 maximum award, which built on the $400 increase she secured in the prior funding package. Senator Murray has also pushed to fix our broken student loans system, urging the Biden administration to extend make much-needed changes to repayment options for students, extend the payment pause to get it done, and deliver debt relief for students—critical steps that the administration has since taken.
Senator Murray has also fought to secure resources to help students during the pandemic. Earlier this year, she announced an additional $2 million in federal relief from the American Rescue Plan to support students pursuing a higher education in Washington state as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Murray secured nearly $40 billion throughout the pandemic for colleges, universities, and students; more than $1.3 billion came through for Washington state from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). HEERF funds can be used to help colleges, universities, and students make it through the pandemic.