Pell Grant 50th Anniversary: Briar Cliff University Community Share Impact

June 23, 2022

June 23 will mark the 50th anniversary of the day the federal Pell Grant program was created, and that landmark event resulted in a proven program that has been the foundation of federal student aid for decades.

Pell Grants have opened doors of college and opportunity to low- and moderate-income students across America, including at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, which is commemorating the Pell anniversary with recollections by students and employees who received grants while in college.

In advance of the notable anniversary, Briar Cliff student Kylee Lukes, who will be a junior in the fall, said receiving a full Pell Grant has filled the gap between her academic and athletic scholarships, so that it may be possible to graduate without any student loans. The Pell has thereby lessened the stress that comes with paying for college and she is grateful it has been such a beneficial program for 50 years for herself and tens of millions of others nation-wide.

Drake Coupland, who is pursuing a double major in Secondary Education and English and plays football, shares the Pell Grant allows him to focus more on his academic and athletic commitments. He can live life with less stress during the school year, due to limited time within his schedule to work. The grant has allowed him, and so many others, to pursue their academic dreams and goals. 

Dr. Patrick Jacobson-Schulte, future Briar Cliff Interim President, credits the Pell Grant for allowing him to afford his education, sharing “I would not be here today as the Interim President of Briar Cliff if it wasn’t for the Pell Grant.” He shares the grant provides endless opportunities to the students served at Briar Cliff, providing them with resources they need to pursue higher education. 

Pell Grants have been an instrumental piece of financial aid packages at Briar Cliff. In the 2021-22 academic year, there were 360 students who received federal Pell grants, for a combined total of more than $1.6 million. This includes BCU non-traditional students, of whom nearly 83% receive federal Pell dollars to enable them to change the trajectory of their lives through education. 

BCU has historically drawn a diverse pool of students, in alignment with mission of the university. Students who would benefit from an increase in the Pell program, further helping them to afford higher education. 

Almost 7 million students nationally received a Pell Grant, and nearly 90% of Pell Grant dollars go to students with a family income of below $50,000. 

The grant program was created as part of a federal education law passed on June 23, 1972. Named after U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell, the first grants (known then as Basic Educational Opportunity Grants, or BEOG) were made available to students in 1973. Nearly 50 years ago, the maximum grant covered more than three-fourths of the cost of attending a four-year public college, but that has declined to less than one-third of the cost today. 

After a recent $400 increase, the maximum Pell grant is $6,895 for the 2022-23 academic year. Following a fall 2021 roundtable event with four other colleges as participants, BCU continues to advocate for Pell to be doubled in the next few years.

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