ASBMB supports bill to change Pell Grant requirements for students with disabilities

Feb. 1, 2022

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology endorses H.R. 5739, legislation that would allow students with disabilities to receive federal Pell Grants without having to enroll in classes full time.

Pell grants are one of the largest sources of funding for college students and, unlike student loans, do not have to be paid back. Studies have shown that only 29% of disabled students complete four-year degrees — with financial struggles being one of the most significant barriers for degree completion.

Students with disabilities enroll in STEM disciplines for undergraduate studies at similar rates as students without disabilities. However, far fewer pursue graduate degrees, also citing financial struggles as one of the barriers. A recent report by the National Science Foundation found that graduate students with disabilities reported loans as their primary source of financial support.

This legislation was introduced by U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle, D-N.Y., and would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965, expanding the period a student may receive federal Pell Grants to more than 12 semesters for disabled students with accommodations.

We strongly approve of this bill, as it will contribute to the retention and degree completion of students with disabilities.