Letter from President Eisgruber and Other Leaders of New Jersey Colleges and Universities to New Jersey Congressional Delegation Regarding Doubling Pell Grants

Sept. 23, 2021

September 22, 2021

To the New Jersey Congressional Delegation

Dear Members of Congress:

On behalf of our institutions—and, more important, on behalf of students of modest means throughout New Jersey and across the country—we write to urge your support for doubling the maximum Pell Grant award as you develop and vote on a budget reconciliation package this month.

At the time of its enactment, the Pell Grant covered nearly 80 percent of the cost of attending a public four-year college.  However, the Pell now accounts for less than 30 percent of the cost of attendance, and it is time for a dramatic recalibration of this vital program to restore the promise of Pell to make college possible for the next generation of postsecondary students.

Here in New Jersey, more than 150,000 students each year receive Pell Grants, part of a current universe of 7 million Pell recipients nationwide—including a clear majority of Black students and about half of Latinx students currently enrolled in college.  We know there are other potential Pell recipients who believe a college education is beyond their means and thus do not even apply for this benefit.  For those students, the wealth gap will only grow wider.

It is exciting and gratifying to see that Congress and the President have been considering ways to help make college more affordable.  A college degree is a hugely important tool of social mobility that opens a wide range of opportunities for careers that can transform the lives of students and their families, in addition to propelling economic prosperity and job growth.

Doubling the maximum Pell Grant will help more students from low- and middle-income families to get to and through college.  That helps everyone:  by cultivating talent from every sector of society, we make our state, and our country, stronger and better.

We believe that, among many thoughtful proposals for increasing access to higher education, doubling the maximum Pell Grant award should be the foundation upon which other efforts can be built.  Pell is a proven program, and in combination with other federal aid, state aid, and institutional grants, has provided millions of low-income students a wide array of postsecondary opportunities at both two- and four-year colleges and universities.

With our continued gratitude for the relief funds that you and your colleagues helped make available to New Jersey college students during the pandemic, we ask that you support this long-term investment in our nation’s and the state’s young people, for whom a college education will be life-changing.


Christopher L. Eisgruber
President, Princeton University

Barbara Gaba, Ph.D.
President, Atlantic Cape Community College

Rabbi Aaron Kotler
President, Beth Medrash Govoha

David Stout, Ph.D.
President, Brookdale Community College

Donald A. Borden
President, Camden County College

Kathryn A. Foster, Ph.D.
President, The College of New Jersey

Thomas J. Schwarz
President, Drew University

Christopher A. Capuano, Ph.D.
President, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.
President, Georgian Court University

Lamont Repollet, Ed.D.
President, Kean University

Mark McCormick, J.D., Ed.D.
President, Middlesex County College

Jonathan GS Koppell, Ph.D.
President, Montclair State University

Joel Bloom, Ed.D.
President, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Steven M. Rose, Ed.D.
President, Passaic County Community College

Michael J. McDonough, Ph.D.
President, Raritan Valley Community College

Michael A. Cioce, Ed.D.
President, Rowan College at Burlington County

Ali A. Houshmand, Ph.D.
President, Rowan University

Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D.
President, Saint Peter’s University

Joseph Nyre, Ph.D.
President, Seton Hall University

Harvey Kesselman, Ed.D.
President, Stockton University

Merodie A. Hancock, Ph.D.
President, Thomas Edison State University

William J. Austin, Ed.D.
President, Warren County Community College

Jonathan Holloway, Ph.D.
President, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Eric Friedman, Ph.D.
President, Bergen Community College

Marcheta Evans, Ph.D.
President, Bloomfield College

Matthew Whelan, Ed.D.
President, Caldwell University

Bruce Murphy, Ed.D.
President, Centenary University

Anthony J. Iacono, Ph.D.
President, County College of Morris

Augustine Boakye, Ph.D.
Interim President, Essex County College

J.W Crawford, III
President, Felician University

Christopher M. Reber, Ph.D.
President, Hudson County Community College

Jianping Wang, Ed.D.
President, Mercer County Community College

Patrick Leahy, Ed.D.
President, Monmouth University

Sue Henderson, Ph.D.
President, New Jersey City University

Jon H. Larson, Ph.D.
President, Ocean County College

Cindy R. Jebb, Ph.D.
President, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.
President, Rider University

Frederick Keating, Ed.D.
President, Rowan College of South Jersey

Gary B. Crosby, Ph.D.
President, Saint Elizabeth University

Michael R. Gorman, Ed.D.
President, Salem Community College

Nariman Farvardin, Ph.D.
President, Stevens Institute

Jon H. Connolly
President, Sussex County Community College

Margaret M. McMenamin, Ed.D
President, Union County College

Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D.
President, William Paterson University