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Pell Grant background information

  • Pell Grants are awarded to low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate college students by the federal government to promote access to a postsecondary education. A federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Students may use their grants at one of approximately 5,400 colleges and universities.
  • For many students, a Pell Grant provides the funds they need to pay for their college tuition and achieve the American dream of earning a college diploma.
  • The maximum Pell Grant is $5,550. The amount awarded depends on a student’s financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.
  • The origin of Pell Grants can be traced to the Higher Education Act of 1965, which was created to provide financial assistance to individuals attending college. The awards are named after the late Claiborne Pell, a Democratic Senator from Rhode Island, who in 1972 was largely responsible for the creation of Pell Grants, originally known as "Basic Educational Opportunity Grants.”
  • Since 1982, the cost of attending college has increased 429 percent, more than four times the rate of inflation. Pell Grants help to ensure that all qualified students have access to a college degree.
  • Studies demonstrate that federal student aid pays back the nation with an educated work force, fewer burdens on social services, higher tax revenue and economic growth. Pell Grants give needy students the opportunity to make long-lasting contributions to our national, regional, and local economic stability and growth.
  • There are about 8.5 million students in the U.S. currently receiving Pell Grants.