Briar Cliff University Community Impact



June 23, 2022

June 23 will mark the 50e anniversary of the day the federal Pell Grant program was established, and this historic event resulted in a proven program that has been the foundation of federal student aid for decades.

The Pell Grants have opened doors to college and opportunities for low- and middle-income students across America, including at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, which commemorates Pell’s birthday with memorabilia from students and employees who received scholarships during their studies.

Prior to this notable anniversary, Briar Cliff student Kylie Luke, who will be a junior in the fall, said receiving a full Pell scholarship bridged the gap between his academic and athletic scholarships, so it might be possible to graduate without any student loans. Pell has taken the stress out of paying for college, and she’s grateful that this program has been so beneficial for 50 years for herself and tens of millions of others across the country.

Drake Coupland, who is pursuing a double major in secondary education and English and plays football, shares the Pell Scholarship allowing him to focus more on his academic and athletic commitments. He can live his life with less stress during the school year, due to the limited time in his work schedule. The scholarship allowed him and so many others to pursue their dreams and academic goals.

Dr. Patrick Jacobson-Schulte, future interim president of Briar Cliff, thanks the Pell Fellowship for allowing him to pay for his education, sharing “I wouldn’t be here today as interim chairman of Briar Cliff without the Pell Fellowship.” It Shares Grant provides endless opportunities for students served at Briar Cliff, providing them with the resources they need to pursue higher education.

The Pell Grants have been instrumental in the financial aid programs at Briar Cliff. In the 2021-2022 academic year, 360 students received Federal Pell Grants, for a combined total of more than $1.6 million. This includes non-traditional BCU students, nearly 83% of whom receive federal Pell dollars to enable them to change the trajectory of their lives through education.

BCU has historically attracted a diverse pool of students, consistent with the university’s mission. Students who would benefit from an increase in the Pell program, helping them further afford higher education.

Nearly 7 million students nationwide have received Pell Grants, and nearly 90% of Pell Grant dollars go to students with household incomes below $50,000.

The grant program was created under federal education legislation passed on June 23, 1972. Named after U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, the first grants (known then as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grants, or BEOG) were made available to students in 1973. Almost 50 years ago, the maximum grant covered more than three-quarters of the cost of attending a public four-year college, but this has declined to less a third of the cost today.

After a recent increase of $400, the maximum Pell Grant is $6,895 for the 2022-23 academic year. Following a roundtable in the fall of 2021 with four other colleges as participants, BCU continues to advocate for Pell to be doubled over the next few years.

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