Capitol Update: Advocating for Pell Grants, international scholars

By Office of Government and Community Affairs | Emory Report | July 13, 2021

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Emory's Office of Government and Community Affairs acts as the university's official government liaison and monitors proposed and enacted legislative and regulatory policies at the federal, state and local levels. Learn more about recent developments on two issues of interest to the Emory community.

Pell Grants

Last month, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) co-sponsored legislation that would double the Pell Grant award, index the award to inflation and make other changes to expand the award for working students and families. The Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act also makes the Pell Grant funding fully mandatory to protect it from funding shortfalls, expands the program to include DREAMers, and restores lifetime eligibility for the program to 18 semesters.

Increasing the Pell Grant has been a long-time legislative priority for Emory. During the 2019-2020 school year, 1,539 Emory students received Pell Grants, totaling over $8 million. University support of our students far outstrips federal support; the university spent over $350 million in scholarships, grants and benefits during the 2019-2020 academic year. The federal government can, and should, do more. Doubling the Pell grant is the most direct way of supporting our Pell-eligible students.

July 13 marks the kick-off to a coordinated national effort to double the Pell Grant maximum from $6,495 to $13,000. The Double Pell Advocacy group has launched the Double Pell Campaign website. It features student Pell Grant stories, useful information on the history of, and data on, the Pell Grant program, and Take Action resources for advocates. Please join us in advocating for Pell.

International scholars

Emory is proud of its international community members and is looking forward to welcoming our students, scholars, researchers and faculty from around the world back to campus next month. In the meantime, Emory’s Office of Government and Community Affairs and International Student and Scholar Services have been working together to advocate for our international colleagues. 

Specifically, Emory has been working with our partner associations and peer institutions, as well as our congressional delegation, to urge the U.S. Department of State to allow an international student/scholar to apply for a visa without an in-person interview, encouraging the use of zoom and other virtual tools. In addition, we are asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide greater flexibility for continuing F-1 students who must enroll from abroad because they cannot return to the U.S. this fall due to the pandemic.

Finally, Emory has signed onto an amicus brief in support of F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the ongoing WashTech litigation. The higher education community weighed in on OPT due to its critical role in experiential learning, including the ability for international students to practice and implement the very educational skills developed on campuses. For more information on the litigation, here is a full list of signatories, the press release, and the litigation page.