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Data
Point
U.S. Department of Education NCES 2019-489
August 2019
Trends in Ratio of Pell Grant to Total Price of Attendance and Federal Loan Receipt

FIGURE 1. Average percentage ratio of Pell Grant amount to the total price of attendance among Pell Grant recipients, by control and level of institution: 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and 2015–16

FIGURE 1. Average percentage ratio of Pell Grant amount to the total price of attendance among Pell Grant recipients, by control and level of institution: 2003-04, 2007-08, 2011-12, and 2015-16

NOTE: Total price of attendance was estimated only for those students who attended one institution during the academic year (92.0 percent of all students in 2003–04, 91.5 percent in 2007–08, 91.0 percent in 2011–12, and 89.5 in 2015–16). Adjusted for attendance intensity, it is derived from tuition and fees, plus the cost of room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. Institutions typically use this value as a student’s budget for the purpose of awarding federal financial aid. The estimates presented include a student’s Pell Grant amount for the academic year listed, rather than the total Pell Grant amount received over all years taken to complete a degree. Except for 2011–12, all estimates include students enrolled in Title IV eligible postsecondary institutions in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Unlike other cycles of NPSAS, the 2011–12 collection does not include institutions sampled from Puerto Rico.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:04, NPSAS:08, NPSAS:12, NPSAS:16).

This Data Point is based on data from four iterations of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), a large, nationally representative sample survey of students that focuses on how they finance their postsecondary education. This Data Point includes data on the percentage of total price of attendance covered by Pell Grants and the percentage of Pell Grant recipients who received federal student loans for academic years 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and 2015–16.

What percentage of total price of attendance is covered by Pell Grants?

  • Overall, the percentage of total price of attendance (tuition and fees, plus the cost of room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses) covered by Pell Grants has remained consistent for selected years between 2003–04 and 2015–16, with the exception of 2007–08. The percentage of total price of attendance covered by Pell Grants was lower in 2007–08 (20 percent) compared to the 24 percent covered in all other years (2003–04, 2011–12, and 2015–16) (figure 1).
  • Pell Grants covered more of the total price of attendance for students at public 2-year institutions compared to public 4-year institutions, private nonprofit 4-year institutions, and private for-profit institutions in all selected academic years between 2003–04 and 2015–16 (figure 1).

FIGURE 2. Percentage of Pell Grant recipients with any federal student loans, by control and level of institution: 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and 2015–16

FIGURE 2. Percentage of Pell Grant recipients with any federal student loans, by control  and level of institution: 2003-04, 2007-08, 2011-12, and 2015-16

NOTE: Federal loans include Perkins, Stafford, and federal loans through the Public Health Service, but excludes Parent PLUS loans. Except for 2011–12, all estimates include students enrolled in Title IV eligible postsecondary institutions in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Unlike other cycles of NPSAS, the 2011–12 collection does not include institutions sampled from Puerto Rico.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:04, NPSAS:08, NPSAS:12, NPSAS:16).

What percentage of Pell Grant recipients have any federal student loans, by control and level of institution?

As shown in figure 1, on average, Pell Grants do not cover the full amount of total price of attendance. To make up the difference, many students take out federal student loans. The percentage of Pell Grant recipients who take out any federal student loans, by control and level of institution is presented in figure 2.

  • Overall, nearly 60 percent of Pell Grant recipients received federal student loans in all four selected academic years. Pell Grant recipients who attended private nonprofit 4-year and private for-profit institutions consistently had higher rates of federal loan receipt compared to Pell Grant recipients at public 4-year and public 2-year institutions in all selected academic years (figure 2).
  • Pell Grant recipients at public 2-year institutions received federal student loans at rates that were 40 to 68 percentage points lower than Pell Grant recipients at other types of institutions in 2003–04, 2007–08, 2011–12, and 2015–16 (figure 2).
  • The percentage of Pell Grant recipients at public 4-year and private for-profit institutions who received federal student loans was lower in 2015–16 compared to all other years (2003–04, 2007–08, and 2011–12) (figure 2).

For questions about content or to view this report online, go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2019489rev.

This NCES Data Point presents information of education topics of current interest. It was authored by Emily Kelly and Casey Archer of AnLar, LLC. Estimates based on samples are subject to sampling variability. All stated differences are statistically significant at the .05 level using a two-tailed Student’s t test without adjustments for multiple comparisons. In the design, conduct, and data processing of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) surveys, efforts are made to minimize effects of nonsampling errors, such as item response, measurement error, data processing error, or other systematic error