Congressman DeSaulnier Announces Bipartisan Legislation to Help Students Afford the Rising Cost of Attending College

November 24, 2017 10:00 am · 31 comments

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced legislation that would help protect low income students from being taxed on using their Pell Grants for non-tuition purposes. He is joined in introducing the bipartisan Pell Grant Flexibility Act (H.R. 3581) by his Republican colleagues Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Thomas MacArthur (NJ-3), and Peter King (NY-2) as well as 22 leading education organizations.

“Outside of the obvious cost of tuition, the price of attending college includes housing, transportation to campus, having supplies like textbooks and notebooks as well as other items such as stable childcare. In order to give our students the best shot at success, this bill makes Pell grants more flexible so students can focus more on their learning than on their wallets,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.

Federal Pell Grants can be used to cover both tuition and non-tuition expenses. When Pell Grants are used for strictly tuition expenses, the subsidy is not taxed. However, under current law, when students use these funds for non-tuition expenses, such as housing, books, transportation, and school supplies, their Pell Grant is taxed. The Pell Grant Flexibility Act makes this change so that every dollar can be invested in a student’s education. Each year approximately eight million students receive Pell Grant funding—a majority of whom have family incomes under $40,000 per year, and typically borrow higher amounts of student loans.

“Many public school teachers rely on Pell Grants to afford college and earn a degree. By allowing students to use Pell Grant funding for college-related expenses other than tuition, such as child care and transportation, many more low-and middle-income students will be able to attend classes and graduate with degrees. Furthermore, with ongoing threats to the Pell Grant program allowing access to Pell Grant funding on a tax-free basis is critical. I commend Rep. DeSaulnier for once again introducing the Pell Grant Flexibility Act,” said Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations, National Education Association (NEA).

bob November 24, 2017 at 10:05 AM

Wow. Mark wanting to lower taxes. Am I dreaming?

Maybe the government should STOP encouraging people to borrow exorbitant amounts of money to pay for (mostly) pointless educations.

Justifyable Anger November 24, 2017 at 10:41 AM

Find out why the costs are rising.

Mr. White November 24, 2017 at 10:57 AM

Wooo hooo pell grant beer! Pell grant dope, pell grant spring break
Bad move Mark

at it again November 24, 2017 at 11:10 AM

and don’t forget he was the leading spear head on the additional gas tax…

It makes sense to me November 24, 2017 at 11:19 AM

Can illegal aliens get a Pell Grant ?

George November 24, 2017 at 11:26 AM

Is this another one of those grants to help out the ILLEGAL immigrants?

Willy November 24, 2017 at 11:44 AM

Anything for Dem votes….

Really? November 24, 2017 at 11:53 AM

@bob, here’s a really good take on your point, of which I agree with.
Ever since the Higher Education Act of 1965 which was the start of government student loans the cost of tuition has steadily increased. Every time the college tuition’s would raise, the government loan limits would increase along with them. Kinda convenient for the colleges, not so much for students or the tax payers…

Dalinian November 24, 2017 at 12:18 PM

You people against EVERYTHING Democrat crack me up….It’s just your cognitive dissonance, and your jingoistic fever that moves you….And when Trumpville comes crashing down, how sad and bitter you will be…You won’t have long to wait…

Waldo November 24, 2017 at 12:49 PM


Nothing is free. Money has to come from somewhere or someone. I’m tired of this free loading from these people that expect to be given everything.
If you want to go to college, work hard and pay for it yourself.

ON DA November 24, 2017 at 1:11 PM

The Congressman and staff have always worked well. It is all the misleading foreign and domestic advertisements that have obscured the issues. Thank you for the caring support.

Yogurt November 24, 2017 at 1:21 PM

Waldo clearly lives in a world where everyone can own a home and have a great life if they only work hard.

That’s all you need to do!!

ClayDen November 24, 2017 at 1:27 PM

Why do illegals pay in-state tuition rates at the CSU, while legal residents from another state pay about 3 times as much? Why are illegals displacing legal residents in the CSU?

jp5air November 24, 2017 at 1:35 PM

The bill he introduced is a nice start but the median household income is $69.5K in DeSaulnier’s district and the majority of families do not qualify for Pell Grants. DeSaulnier should look at ways to make college more affordable for his constituents. The obvious choice would be to work with local officials to build a UC campus at the Concord Naval Weapons Station. DeSaulnier could work with the Department of Defense to get the property cleaned up and ready to build a campus. CNWS has been closed for 10 years but the bunkers and who knows what else are still in place.

Building a UC campus in Concord would give 11th District families a more affordable choice for college and do far more to reduce college costs for his constituents than the Pell Grant bill he just introduced.

CSS November 24, 2017 at 1:45 PM

@ Dalinian

The Democrats have been in control in CA for many many years and we’ve watched CA spiral down the toilet. Need one say any more!!!
CA is the laughing stock of this nation.

Cellophane November 24, 2017 at 2:17 PM

A Pell Grant is money the government provides for students who need it to pay for college.

The governments ONLY source of income is tax dollars.

Nothing is free. Anyone who believes so is a fool.

Alex November 24, 2017 at 5:00 PM

@Waldo, and how exactly is a fresh-out-of-high school student pay 10-15k per year? Even a community college student going to school full time with a non-career job would have to save for a good amount of time. They’re not “free-loading,” they’re being helped and do have to pay loans back. Higher pull grant wil help so many people.

Alex November 24, 2017 at 5:05 PM

Really? California is the laughing stock?

Parent November 24, 2017 at 5:39 PM

The problem is that the colleges are ripping us off. Legislate them out of raising tuition to match the borrowing power of students. Better yet, privatize the system. Free markets always outperform government – Always, no exceptions!

JustSayin2 November 24, 2017 at 6:08 PM

NO!! We all know this will only help illegals and immigrants. Not our own. My daughter and her boy friend ate still paying off their student loans from 5yrs ago. Every year she was in college we had to produce our income taxes to determine how much she would qualify for

Fred P. November 24, 2017 at 6:09 PM

@#9 dalinian…

No, we’re against everything that indicates fiscal irresponsibility. But you, as a democrat, choose to ignore the economic facts….but instead choose to insult others that don’t agree with you.

You are a perfect example of today’s democrat… touting diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance- until someone disagrees with you. Then you’re throwing the personal insults like there’s no tomorrow.

Typical hypocrite.

Elwood November 24, 2017 at 6:43 PM

Is there no end to this plague?

Go away mark!

Lorelei November 24, 2017 at 8:22 PM

I got all excited when I saw the words: “Congressman DeSaulnier announces” hoping the next two words would be HIS RESIGNATION. Sadly,……not……

P.S. #21 I am “today’s democrat” and if/when I hear a plausible argument for stepping on the poor and disabled, I promise to listen…………

SmileWC November 25, 2017 at 6:01 AM

If it’s a grant, they can condition it on what they want. If you don’t like the rules, don’t accept the grant.

Concord Mike November 25, 2017 at 7:09 AM

I don’t object to income based scholarships when they go to high achievers enrolled in serious (STEM) majors, but that is NOT what Pell Grants support.

Pell Grants are being given to mostly mediocre students who end up with lower GPA’s and higher drop out rates than average college students. A huge waste of taxpayer money.

Raise the standards for Pell Grants so we can be proud of that program.

The Realist November 25, 2017 at 8:03 AM

Privatize education, really? How’d that work out for ITT or DeVry or Phoenix.
Joke educations, scam pricing, predatory sales behavior.
Fix the reason tuition prices are rising sky high then you can complain about helping those in need.
” Free markets always outperform government ”
So cute, how naive.

Town November 25, 2017 at 3:18 PM

If we would start teaching folks that there are options in the trades instead of “just get a degree”. That worked 15 years ago when employers were hiring people with a a degree in anything. Now those jobs are spoken for and you need to get a education beyond core requirements and art. What the hell do you do with a degree in gender studies BTW? Art history, Philosophy, and Sociology are classes you take when you haven’t quite figured out your path. $160k to get a degree in nothing, or $40k to become a fabricator, mechanic of HVAC specialist. American Indian/Native/Indigenous studies… WTF! Here we are though telling young adults that may not have the intelligence to become a Doctor, Engineer, or Scientist “oh just go to college anyway”.

Town November 25, 2017 at 3:22 PM

“Privatize education, really? How’d that work out for ITT or DeVry or Phoenix”.


You know the highest level of education you can get, and all private.

ITT… hahahahahahahaha!

Parent November 25, 2017 at 7:51 PM

@Realist- You’re funny. Who taught you that?

meagain November 25, 2017 at 10:19 PM

have you heard of trump university and the scam he was pulling…? He wasn’t even offering college degrees, credits or grades. We have a winner there… right?!? Oh, wait…he settled the class action lawsuit.

Town November 26, 2017 at 10:57 AM


I almost got through a day without an anti Trump post. Thanks.

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