Pell Grants: An Overview
The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-graduate students to promote access to higher education. A Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not need to be repaid, and can be used at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions nationwide. Grant amounts are dependent on:
- the student’s financial need;
- the cost of attendance, as determined by the institution;
- the student’s enrollment status (full-time or part-time); and
- whether the student attends for a full academic year or less.
Students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if they qualify for Pell Grants. Students can receive the Pell Grant for no more than 12 semesters or the equivalent (roughly six years).
Utah continues to be last in the nation for percent of eligible students completing the FAFSA. In 2014-15, 70% of eligible Utah high school graduates did not complete a FAFSA, the highest among all states. While still the lowest in the nation, Utah’s FAFSA completions increased 5.5% this past year.
Pell Grants in the Utah System of Higher Education
In the Utah System of Higher Education, 55,503 USHE students received Pell Grants during the 2015-16 academic year, totaling nearly $200 million.
USHE Pell Grants, 2015-16 academic year
The largest amount of Pell Grant dollars was received by students studying at Utah Valley University, at $45.1 million, followed by Utah State University at $37.3 million and Salt Lake Community College at $28.7 million. Students studying at USHE institutions received about half of Utah’s total Pell Grant dollar amount for 2015-16, followed by 35% at Utah’s private, nonprofit institutions and 15% at the for-profit institutions.