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PEDAR: Executive Summary Persistence and Attainment of Beginning Students With Pell Grants
Institution Type, Pell Grant Award Amounts, and Other Financial Aid
Academic Background and Enrollment Characteristics
Persistence Risk Factors
Three-Year Rates of Persistence
Persistence at 4-Year Institutions
Private Not-For-Profit 4-Year Institutions
Public 4-Year Institutions
Persistence at Less-Than-4-Year Institutions
Persistence of Pell Grant Recipients Receiving Other Financial Aid or Parental Support
Relationship of Specific Variables to Persistence
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)

The Pell Grant program is the largest federal need-based grant program available to postsecondary education students. In 1998–99, the federal government spent $7.2 billion on Pell Grants for more than 3.8 million students (U.S. Department of Education 1999). Students can use a Pell Grant at almost all 2- and 4-year public and private not-for-profit institutions, as well as several thousand private for-profit institutions. Pell Grant program eligibility is based primarily on the student’s and/or parents’ income for the previous year, with awards made primarily to low-income students. Among undergraduates who enrolled in postsecondary education for the first time in 1995–96, 87 percent of Pell Grant recipients were either dependent students whose parents’ incomes were under $45,000 (59 percent) or independent students with incomes under $25,000 (28 percent). Other factors are also taken into account in awarding Pell Grants, such as student and parent assets and other family members who are concurrently enrolled in college.

This report provides a description of Pell Grant recipients who were first-time beginning postsecondary students in 1995–96. Using data from the 1996 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, “First Follow-up” (BPS:96/98), the report examines the academic and enrollment characteristics of beginning students who received a Pell Grant and their rates of persistence 3 years after first starting postsecondary education. These students are compared with beginning students who did not receive a Pell Grant. Because Pell Grant recipients are predominantly low-income students, high-income students were excluded from the analysis when comparing students’ educational background and postsecondary outcomes. For these analyses Pell Grant recipients were only compared to low- and middle-income nonrecipients. However, all students were included when analyzing the distribution of different types of financial aid and the types of institutions that students attended with respect to whether or not they received a Pell Grant.

In 1995–96, 29 percent of all beginning students and 32 percent of full-time beginning students received a Pell Grant. Beginning postsecondary students receiving Pell Grants differed from other first-time students in the types of institutions attended and receipt of other types of financial aid. When examining low- and middle-income students only, Pell Grant recipients differed from nonrecipients in their level of high school academic preparation and the number of factors that put them at risk for not achieving their educational objectives.

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