National Institute on Aging

New Report Offers Statistics on Pell Grant Recipients by Racial and Ethnic Group

Federal Pell grants are financial awards provided to undergraduate students who demonstrate significant financial need. Congress authorized the Pell Grant Program in 1972 with the passage of the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant Program. Federal Pell grants have been awarded annually since the 1973–74 school year.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education shows data on Pell grant recipients by racial and ethnic group and the historical trends of those students who have received Pell grants.

In the 2015-16 academic year, 39.1 percent of all undergraduate students received a Pell grant. The average award was $3,700. The average Pell grant recipient received a grant that paid 18.5 percent of the student’s total cost of higher education.

More than 57 percent of African American undergraduate students received a federal Pell grant in the 2015-16 academic year. For White undergraduates, 31.5 percent of all undergraduates received a federal Pell grant. Blacks received 22.7 percent of all Pell Grants in the 2015-16 academic year. This was slightly lower than in the 2007-08 academic year.

The percentage of both White and Black students who received Pell grants was up from a decade ago. But since the 2011-12 academic year, the percentage of Black students receiving Pell grants dropped from 61.9 percent to 57.7 percent.

More than two thirds of all Black Pell grant recipients also took out student loans. For Whites the figures was 59.7 percent

The full report, Trends in Pell Grant Receipt and the Characteristics of Pell Grant Recipients: Selected Years, 2003–04 to 2015–16, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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