4) Increasing Pell Grants
We could also increase Pell Grants. As a report by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and think tank Demos explains, Pell Grants—a federal form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be paid back and are typically awarded to families that make less than $40,000 a year—have shrunk considerably over the years. Pell Grants have dwindled from a maximum of 76 percent for public universities and 35 percent for private colleges from 1979 to 1980 to 30 percent for public universities and 14 percent for private colleges from 2014 to 2015.
This has made it exponentially more difficult for working class Americans to afford college education without accumulating considerable debt. Increasing the maximum amount of Pell Grant coverage to pre-1980 levels would do a great deal to close that income gap.