Stony Brook University’s (SBU) Advocacy Corps recently met with U.S. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Long Island (LI) Regional Director Michael Ianelli in addition to the Senator’s LI Deputy Regional Director Joselyn Mejia, an SBU alumna. The Corps urged Congress to double the maximum Pell Grant award to $13,000 to help restore its original purchasing power.
“The Pell Grant program is the single most important program to enable students to access and afford college,” said James Lopez Perez, a senior studying political science. “As a first-generation college student, I am grateful for crucial federal financial aid programs like Pell which will assist me in achieving one of my dreams — graduating from one of the top US research universities. It’s pivotal that Congress double the Pell in order to reduce the amount of student loan debt many low-income students incur and empower them to better contribute to the economy or earn advanced degrees important to the modern workforce.”
During the meeting, Corps members emphasized that a highly educated and skilled workforce is vital to innovation, security, and today’s industries and those of the future. An inadequate and difficult-to-navigate student aid system prevents many low- and middle-income students and families from pursuing higher education — and, for those who earn degrees anyway and finance their higher education with student loans, they are too often faced with unmanageable loan debt that impedes home ownership, retirement savings, and family aspirations.
“Over one third of Stony Brook undergraduates receive Pell Grants and Pell Grant recipients at Stony Brook graduate at higher rates than non-recipients,” said Kim Stepien, a senior studying political science and government. “As a recipient of financial aid, I can attest to the necessity of providing robust funding levels for these programs in order to ensure the US continues to maintain the highest level of a diverse STEM workforce.”
Both the Advocacy Corps and SBU’s Office of Federal Relations are grateful for Senator Schumer tirelessly fighting to increase funding for student financial aid and higher education programs.