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Doggett Legislation Expanding Student Eligibility for Pell Grants & Simplifying FAFSA Approved by Congress

December 22, 2020

***For Immediate Release***

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December 22, 2020

Contact: Kate Stotesbery



Doggett Legislation Expanding Student Eligibility for Pell Grants & Simplifying FAFSA Approved by Congress

Washington, D.C. – As this year’s January 15 FAFSA deadline approaches, legislation authored by U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) to expand access to federal financial and simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was included in the COVID relief package, just approved by Congress. He released this statement:

“Most every family helping a student prepare for college goes through the time-consuming and often confusing task of completing the FAFSA. This process is so burdensome that $2.6 billion in free student aid has gone unused because many—particularly low-income or first-generation college students—decide not to apply. For more than a decade, I have been trying to simplify that task and open financial aid to more students. This relief package contains a number of provisions that, working with Austin nonprofit College Forward, I proposed in the Equitable Student Aid Access Act that I first filed in 2015. By simplifying the FAFSA and making more students eligible to receive the Pell Grant, we can remove financial obstacles so more students can secure all of the education for which they are willing to work. I salute retiring Senator Lamar Alexander for his bipartisan leadership on FAFSA and other higher education provisions in this bill.”

Austin Buchan, Chief Executive Officer of College Forward, shared:

“After arguably the most difficult academic year in the last century, we are thrilled to see FAFSA simplification included in the latest stimulus package. Students from economically disadvantaged and first generation families have endured historic challenges on their paths to and through college. This move to dramatically simplify access to federal financial aid will open doors to millions of students in our hardest hit communities. We are grateful to Representative Doggett, Senator Lamar Alexander, and countless others who have made this a top policy priority for years, and share in this victory with College Forward’s community of 15,000 students and their families.”

The Equitable Student Aid Access Act will ensure that any student receiving a number of a federal means-tested benefits is eligible for the simplified needs test, putting students on track to receive the Pell Grant and ensuring the FAFSA is more simple for low-income families. The bill also increases the household income threshold used to determine whether a student qualifies for the full Pell Grant, ensuring that our most vulnerable students have access to the resources they need. Finally, the bill ensures students can begin filling the FAFSA on October 1 by allowing families to use necessary tax information.

This major legislative progress comes in the middle of FAFSA season for families; the deadline to complete the FAFSA for students planning to attend a public college or university in Texas is fast-approaching, as the priority deadline for the 2021-2022 school year is January 15, 2021. Particularly in the continuing economic hardship of this pandemic, it is critical that families of future first-generation college students and current students can access financial aid. Families who need assistance completing their FAFSA can get support from a number of local partners throughout central Texas:

  • Click here to sign up for financial aid workshops and individual appointments hosted by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Austin Community College, and Red Kite
  • Click here sign up for virtual financial aid advising sessions hosted by Cafécollege 


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