House Republicans want to cut $100 billion from the budget proposal Obama submitted for 2011 and education and college financial aid are expected to take a hit.
Congress, then controlled by Democrats, did not pass a budget for 2011.
Pell Grants are the main federal college financial aid program for the poor.
More than 9 million students receive these grants every year, according to the White House, and Obama increased the maximum award to $5,550. The money does not have to be repaid.
The administration is projecting a shortfall of more than $20 billion in the program for the 2012. Without action, officials say, the maximum award would have to be cut by more than $2,500 to meet demand.
Demand increased sharply since the economic slump because more job seekers are going to school to learn new skills and they need help paying the tuition, the administration official said.