Bill would expand Pell Grants to cover more Gold Star families

U.S. Army / MGN
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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- Several members of the U.S. Senate, including Senator Tim Kaine, have reintroduced a bill to expand the Pell Grant program to include the children and dependents of those killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Kaine, along with Senators James Lankford, Jon Tester and Tim Scott, reintroduced the Protecting Our Gold Star Families' Education Act on Thursday.

“Gold Star families have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Helping them afford college is the least we can do,” said Kaine. “We should give our servicemembers peace of mind that if anything happens to them, the nation they served will look out for their kids and help access a high-quality education.”

Under the current law, students whose parent(s) died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11 are eligible to get federal student aid for postsecondary education equivalent to the maximum Pell Grant award through the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

However, sequestration caused the U.S. Department of Education to send a letter to institutions requiring them to reduce these awards by about 6.2 percent for the 2018-2019 award year.

The bill would move the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant to the Pell Grant program, which is exempt from the effects of sequester, to stabilize the funding source for the awards.

This would ensure Gold Star families have access to the maximum Pell Grant funding that is available.

The bill would ensure the children of such veterans will get financial support by aligning eligibility requirements between the U.S. Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs.

It would also ensure such dependents will get the maximum Pell Grant for that award year.

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