February 2, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Maintaining Pell Grant Award Level
WASHINGTON—Millions of our neediest students rely on Pell Grants to turn the dream of attending college into a reality. In difficult economic times, these grants are a lifesaver for students who want to go to college but are struggling financially. We’re gratified that yesterday the U.S. Department of Education—following Congress’ strong leadership to make college more accessible and affordable—maintained the maximum Pell Grant award at $5,550 for the next academic year. Equally important, students will see lower interest rates on need-based student loans. On July 1, 2011, the interest rate for need-based student loans will go down to 3.4 percent. There is no better investment in our future than one that helps produce a highly educated, well-trained workforce.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.