Skip to main content

What is the Pell Grant Worth?

The Pell Grant got its start as the Basic Education Opportunity Grant, or BEOG sometime in the 1970's; it was later named for Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell.  The idea was simple: To provide a basic level of financial support for students from low income families who aspired to go to college.

It's almost certainly had a lot to do with increased levels of educational attainment in America, but rapid tuition increases, coupled with lower increases for the Pell, means the gap between Pell and tuition has gotten bigger over time.

The College Board has complied a lot of good data on this and other financial aid trends in its report, updated annually, on its Higher Education Trends site, where you can download the data. Unfortunately, the data looks like this when you get it.  Maybe you can extract the insight; I can't.



So I pulled it into Tableau and spent an hour or so with it to see what I could find.  It's below.  The College Board has calculated enrollment-weighted average tuition by type (4-year public and 4-year private, not-for-profit) which makes comparisons easier, and has adjusted everything (including the maximum Pell Grant) for inflation.  You can see on the three views what's happened to tuition, fees, and Pell; how much they've changed on a percentage basis; and the purchasing power of Pell over time.

Occasionally (OK, frequently) I've criticized highly selective institutions for enrolling very low percentages of Pell Grant students in their freshman class.  If you wanted to argue that they don't make much business sense, you might have a point.  But you'd also be right in pointing out that the diminished purchasing power of Pell is due in large part to rapid increases in tuition. So there's plenty of blame to go around.

What else do you see?




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2018 Admissions Data

This is always a popular post, it seems, and I've had a couple of people already ask when it was going to be out.  Wait no more. This is IPEDS 2018 admissions data, visualized for you in two different ways.  You can switch using the tabs across the top. The first view is the universe of colleges and universities that report data; not every college is required to, and a few leave data out, and test optional colleges are not supposed to report test scores.  But IPEDS is not perfect, so if you find any problems, contact the college. On the first view, you'll see 1,359 four-year private and public, not-for-profit institutions displayed.  In order to make this as clean as possible, I've taken out some specialty schools (nursing, business, engineering, etc.) as many of those don't have complete data.  But you can put them back in using the filter at top right. Hover over any bar, and a little chart pops up showing undergraduate enrollment by ethnicity. You can also

So you think you're going back to the SAT and ACT?

Now that almost every university in the nation has gone test-optional for the 2021 cycle out of necessity, a nagging question remains: How many will go back to requiring tests as soon as it's possible?  No one knows, but some of the announcements some colleges made sounded like the kid who only ate his green beans to get his screen time: They did it, but they sure were not happy about it.  So we have some suspicions about the usual suspects. I don't object to colleges requiring tests, of course, even though I think they're not very helpful, intrinsically biased against certain groups, and a tool of the vain.  You be you, though, and don't let me stop you. However, there is a wild card in all of this: The recent court ruling prohibiting the University of California system from even using--let alone requiring--the SAT or ACT in admissions decisions next fall.  If you remember, the Cal State system had already decided to go test blind, and of course community colleges in

Yes, your yield rate is still falling

In 2015, I wrote this post on falling yield rates.  It was pretty obvious to many of us in the profession that this trend was widespread, and largely driven by a dramatic increase in applications against a more modest increase in actual students who could or would enroll. It apparently wasn't so obvious to everyone.  Response was much stronger than I thought it would be, and I never had seen so many requests from people who wanted to share it with their trustees (btw, this is public; you never have to ask permission to share). So I redid it, using trend data from 2005 to 2018.  First a couple of definitions: Admit rate is the percentage of applicants who were offered admission (admits/applicants). Yield rate is the percentage of admitted students who enroll (enrollers/admits). Draw rate is not commonly known, and I wish I remember who first mentioned it to me in the 1980's.  It stuck with me and is a valuable metric, I think, as we attempt to measure market posi