Reporter’s notebook


  • Biden to pitch for Pell Grant award increase
  • A few more colleges announce tuition freezes

Biden to pitch for Pell Grant award increase

President Joe Biden is expected to call for a Pell Grant award increase of more than $2,000 in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

“Over 6 million students depend on Pell Grants to finance their education, yet the amount of money in these grants has not kept up with the rising cost of college and DREAMers still do not have access,” according to a White House fact sheet released Monday that outlines the broad domestic policy points of Biden’s speech.   

The fact sheet also shows the president will call for more skill-based hiring and highlight registered apprenticeships as a key workforce development tool. It said Biden will emphasize expanding access to such programs to underserved populations. 

It gave as an example the administration’s push to increase access to quality trucking jobs by expanding registered apprenticeship programs for drivers. It includes developing more seamless paths for veterans and underrepresented communities, such as women, to access good driving jobs. 

Biden also will ask Congress to expand institutional aid grants to Historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions. The fact sheet said these colleges can use the additional funding to strengthen their academic, administrative and fiscal capabilities through efforts such as creating or expanding educational programs in high-demand fields.

A few more colleges announce tuition freezes

Although many community colleges across the country have recently announced modest increases to tuition and fees for the next academic year, a few have stated they will freeze tuition for the 2022-23 academic year.

New Jersey’s Ocean County College (OCC) announced last week it will not increase student tuition, marking the second straight year it has held tuition the same at $175 per credit. College leaders said the goal is to keep higher education affordable. 

OCC noted that in 2020 it bundled the cost of books and electronic course materials with tuition, which lowers out-of-pocket costs for students and may enable them to receive more financial aid. As a result of that structure, the college said the tuition freeze means that the cost of books will not increase for the 2022-23 school year.

Last week, Union County College also in New Jersey said will keep its tuition and fees as is for a third consecutive year.

In Illinois, McHenry County College (MCC) on Monday announced that it will not increase tuition and fees for fiscal year 2023. The decision is based on a combination of factors, including the availability of grant funding, scholarships, and ongoing student need due to the continued impact of the pandemic and increased inflation in the economy, according to the college. 

“MCC continues to improve efficiencies across the institution, maximize available resources, and build fiscal resiliency,” President Clint Gabbard said in a release. “This strategic and conservative approach has allowed the College to weather our state’s challenging financial times over the last several years, as well as sustain one of the lowest tuition rates in Illinois.”

Based on a student taking 15 credit hours each fall and spring semester, a year at MCC costs $3,847.50, while a year of in-state tuition at Illinois State University costs $15,319, according to MCC.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.