Durbin Joins Members of Congress in Introducing Bill to Restore Pell Grant Eligibility for Students

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) in introducing the Pell Grant Restoration Act of 2015.  They were also joined by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), U.S. Representatives Maxine Waters (CA-43) and Janice Hahn (CA-44) and 42 other members of Congress.


“In spite of the warning signs, the federal government did not step in soon enough to prevent Pell Grant funding from being wasted on the failed Corinthian Colleges system,” said Sen. Durbin.  “It is only fair that the students who were misled into failing programs have their Pell Grant eligibility restored.  We shouldn’t be punishing students for the bad actions of for-profit college CEOs.”

With Corinthian Colleges, Inc. filing for bankruptcy amid widespread charges of fraud, this Act is more crucial than ever for protecting and supporting our nation’s students. Currently, the Higher Education Act does not reset the clock on a student’s eligibility for Pell Grants, and students may not have enough Pell Grant eligibility left to complete a program at another school. The Pell Restoration Act will restore Pell Grant eligibility for students who attended an institution of higher education that closed due to certain violations.


“Students who are defrauded by an unethical college or who lose their academic credits when a school closes are entitled to student loan relief, but under current law they cannot restore their eligibility for Pell grants,” said Secretary Duncan.  “As a result, they may not be able to afford to start over somewhere.  I commend Congressman Bobby Scott and Senator Barbara Boxer in their leadership on this issue.”

“We must crack down on the predatory practices of unscrupulous for-profit colleges that hurt students and put taxpayers at risk,” Senator Boxer said. “We must also ensure that students are not penalized for the deceptive behavior of these bad actors. The Pell Restoration Act will give students a chance to start over by restoring their access to critical financial aid.”

Pell Grants serve as an option for students seeking to cover higher education expenses such as, tuition and fees, books, room and board.

United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised the introduction of the bill.


“For too long, some educational institutions have engaged in activities that leave students financially and academically vulnerable,” said Rep. Bobby Scott. “The time that students invest in their studies can never be replaced, but the Pell Restoration Act gives students a renewed opportunity to continue their education without the burden of lost aid. The pursuit of a post-secondary education should not be a risky proposition for students and families.”


"When students are cheated by for-profit, predatory colleges, they shouldn't lose any of their eligibility for Pell Grants," Sen. Warren said. "These colleges have already taken time and hope from people who are struggling to get an education.  This legislation would ensure that students can hit the reset button on their Pell Grant eligibility so that they can have the chance to go back to school.”


"It is time for Congress to step up on behalf of students who were not only misled by for profit colleges about the value of their education and job placement rates, but were also stranded in debt with worthless degrees,” said Rep. Waters. Most of these students are low-income minorities and veterans who are deliberately targeted through predatory marketing and recruitment practices for their financial aid. This legislation will ensure that these students can restore some of what these colleges have stripped from them. It will guarantee that they have a new opportunity to receive a quality education that can lead to a fulfilling career and a productive life”


“Forgiving the debt of students defrauded by for-profit colleges and restoring their eligibility for Pell Grants not only is fair but also smart policy, providing an opportunity for motivated, capable students to pursue the higher education they deserve,” said Rep. Janice Hahn. “I was happy to work on this issue last Congress and with the plight of Corinthian students making Pell Grant restoration all the more important, I am proud to have worked with Congressman Scott on this important bill.”


“This spring, 1,700 college students in Hawaii found themselves scrambling for answers and alternatives in the aftermath of the shutdown of Corinthian Colleges, Inc.” said Sen. Hirono.  “The U.S. Department of Education is now in the process of helping these victims, but we need to do more. The closing of Corinthian College was out of students’ control, and those enrolled should have another opportunity to utilize all federal financial aid sources to complete their eudcation. The Pell Restoration Act would restore Pell Grant eligibility for students whose education has been derailed through no fault of their own, and will allow them to continue their studies at another college. We need to protect these students and ensure they can fulfill their goal of earning a college degree affordably.”


“Corinthian College, Inc., wasted hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and left thousands of students in debt without any degrees to show for it,” said Sen. Murphy. While we absolutely need to hold abusive colleges and their executives accountable and create stronger protections to prevent any similar misconduct in the future, restoring access to Pell Grants for wronged students will help ensure that students receive the aid they need to continue their education.”


A fact sheet on the Pell Restoration Act of 2015 can be found here.


Bill text of the Pell Restoration Act of 2015 can be found here.


The Pell Grant Restoration Act of 2015 has 45 House cosponsors: Rubén Hinojosa, Janice Hahn, Maxine Waters, Susan A. Davis, Raúl M. Grijalva, Joe Courtney, Marcia L. Fudge, Jared Polis, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Frederica S. Wilson, Suzanne Bonamici, Mark Pocan, Mark Takano, Hakeem S. Jeffries, Katherine M. Clark, Alma S. Adams, Mark DeSaulnier, Karen Bass, Earl Blumenauer, G.K. Butterfield, Michael E. Capuano, Tony Cárdenas, Kathy Castor, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline, Wm. Lacy Clay, Peter A. DeFazio, Keith Ellison, Chaka Fattah, Lois Frankel, Ruben Gallego, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Denny Heck, Marcy Kaptur, Robin L. Kelly, James R. Langevin, Jim McDermott, Gwen Moore, Patrick Murphy, Pedro R. Pierluisi, Charles B. Rangel, Cedric L. Richmond, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Tim Ryan, Bennie G. Thompson


The Pell Grant Restoration Act of 2015 has 4 Senate cosponsors: Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT)


The Pell Grant Restoration Act of 2015 is supported by: AFL-CIO, Air Force Sergeants Association, American Federation of Teachers, Association of the United States Navy, Center for Law and Social Policy, Consumer Action, Consumer Union, The Education Trust, Equal Justice Works, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Education Association, National Women Veterans, Public Counsel, Service Employees International Union, Student Debt Crisis, The Institute for College Access and Success, United States Public Interest Research Groups, Veterans for Common Sense, Veterans Education Success, VetJobs.com, Inc., VetsFirst, Young Invincibles