CGS Supports Legislation Expanding Access to Graduate Education
    June 20, 2019



    Contact: Katherine Hazelrigg (202) 461-3888/


    Washington, DC – The Council of Graduate Schools applauds the bipartisan introduction of the Expanding Access to Graduate Education Act (H.R. 3334), introduced by Representatives Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Fred Upton (R-MI), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Tim Burchett (R-TN), and Harley Rouda (D-CA). H.R. 3334 would provide graduate students who received Pell Grant support as undergraduates and who remain income-eligible the ability to apply remaining semesters of Pell support towards a graduate degree. CGS has long supported this proposal to modernize the Pell program, thereby improving access and diversity within graduate education and strengthening the workforce.


    Currently, Pell is only available to undergraduate students, and eligible individuals can receive up to 12 semesters’ worth of grant awards. However, a growing number of graduate students are former Pell recipients. According to the Department of Education, in Academic Year 2015-2016, nearly 46 percent of first-year graduate and professional students received some level of Pell support during their undergraduate education -- an encouraging indicator that a greater number of students from lower socio-economic means are pursuing graduate degrees. If enacted, the legislation would potentially assist nearly 387,600 students, according to CGS estimates.


    “This legislation upholds the primary mission of the Pell Grant program, which is to help ensure that individuals with exceptional financial need are able to pursue higher levels of education,” said Suzanne T. Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. “Our nation is becoming increasingly diverse, and it is imperative that our graduate student population reflects that diversity by including more students from low-income and underrepresented communities.”


    Moreover, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in high-demand fields such as education, health care, and STEM often require at least a master’s degree. "As occupations requiring a master's degree continue to grow, we need to make sure those who wish to fill these jobs are not prevented from doing so because of the high cost of graduate school," said Congresswoman Kuster. "This legislation will help remove some of the barriers that many Americans face in their pursuit of post-graduate opportunities, reduce student debt, and ensure workers have the skills they need to help fill the jobs of the future-this bill is a win-win for students and our economy."


    "The bottom line is this legislation will help make a graduate degree more affordable for the nearly 5,000 graduate students who attend Western Michigan University and the millions of graduate students across the country," Congressman Upton said. "Countless good-paying jobs today require a graduate degree, but earning one can be expensive-especially after already paying for an undergraduate degree. The bipartisan legislation we introduced today would help reduce the debt burden of these students."



    The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of approximately 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.