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).
Pell Grants in Utah
In 2013 – 2014, over 113,000 Utah students statewide–including over 62,000 USHE students–received Pell Grants. The total dollar amount of Pell Grants was nearly $406 million, with the average grant coming in at $3,592. In USHE, the largest amount of Pell Grants dollars was received by students studying at Utah Valley University, at $47.7 million, followed by Salt Lake Community College at $39.3 million and Utah State University at $36.8 million. Students studying at USHE institutions received 54% of the total Pell Grant dollar amount for 2013 – 14, followed by 29% at the private, nonprofit institutions and 16% at the for-profit institutions. A total of 62,373 USHE students received Pell Grant support 2013 – 14.
After sharp increases in Pell Grant volumes from 2008 – 2012, both the number of recipients and dollar amounts decreased this past year from the 2012 – 13 award year. The number of Utah Pell Grant recipients decreased 5.8%, and the dollar volume decreased 4%. Such stabilization has historically occurred as the economy recovers and employment improves.