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Rep. Carney to introduce a bill to create higher ed savings accounts

Eli Chen/Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s lone representative John Carney will introduce a bill in Congress Wednesday to reform the federal government’s college Pell Grant program.

Tuesday morning at Dover High School, Carney joined the heads of Del Tech, Wesley College and DSU to present the Higher Education Savings Account Act. This legislation would run a pilot program to create education savings accounts for high school students.

Right now, the federal Pell Grant program uses over $32 billion annually to support nearly 9 million undergraduates. But Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student debt. Carney says the federal financial aid program needs to help students--especially low-income, high-achieving students--take active steps sooner to make sure they have the funds for college and not wait until they’re seniors to start thinking about it.


Under Carney’s plan, each account would have the maximum eligible Pell Grant amount - which in the current school year is a little less than $70,000, or just under $6,000 a semester for 12 semesters.


“It’s essentially accumulating the total value of their Pell Grant eligibility and creating an account in advance--as opposed to the way it works now, when they don’t know about that until several years down the road," said Carney.


Ninth and tenth grade students who qualify for the free lunch program and meet certain academic standards would be eligible for this savings account. If the legislation is passed, the Department of Education will design the program and set up the accounts.


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