The U.S. Department of Education has released a new report on Pell Grant recipients in the United States. Pell Grants are federal financial aid for students from lower-income families. The grants, which can be as much as $5,775 annually, do not have to be repaid.
The Pell Grant program, founded in 1965 and named after Democratic U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, has expanded significantly since the turn of the century. In 1999, 3,763,710 undergraduate students received Pell Grants. Total program expenditures that year were about $7.2 billion. By the 2011-12 academic year, nearly 9.5 million students received Pell Grants totaling more than $33.5 billion.
The Pell Grant program is a major factor in college affordability for African Americans. Nearly 62 percent of all African American undergraduates received a Pell Grant in the 2011-12 academic year. For Whites, 33.5 percent of undergraduates that year were Pell Grant recipients. While Blacks make up bout 13 percent of total enrollments in higher education, they are about one quarter of all students who receive Pell Grants.
The average Pell Grant award for Black students in the 2011-12 academic year was $3,400. This was slightly higher than the average award for White students.
The full report, Trends in Pell Grant Receipt and the Characteristics of Pell Grant Recipients: Selected Years, 1999–2000 to 2011–12, may be downloaded by clicking here.