Study Finds That Tens of Thousands of Low-Income College Students Do Not Apply for Pell Grants

Dan Cohen-Vogel, assistant vice chancellor of the state university system in Florida, conducted a survey which found that thousands of college students from low-income families in the state passed up Pell Grant awards for which they were eligible. Blacks are 17 percent of all college students in Florida and they make up a disproportionate share of students eligible for Pell Grants.

The report found that 22,000 low-income students at Florida’s 11 public universities did not apply for Pell Grant awards although they were entitled to receive them. The survey did not include students at the state’s two-year community colleges or students at private, four-year colleges and universities. Therefore, the number of low-income students who did not bother to apply for Pell Grant awards is undoubtedly much higher.

Cohen-Vogel told the board of governors of the state university system that “there are students who are just not educated about the process.” He said that the 12-page financial aid application form discourages student participation and some students do not apply because they have the false impression that Pell Grants are loans. Cohen-Vogel proposes that a more extensive program be initiated in Florida high schools to educate students about their financial aid opportunities.