The U.S. Department of Education recently released a new report on participation in the Pell Grant program. The need-based program provides up to $5,815 annually in federal funds for college students.
The new data shows that 35 percent of all dependent students in families nationwide received federal Pell Grants in the 2011-12 academic year. This is up from 19 percent in the 1999-2000 academic year. An earlier U.S. Department of Education report found that 61.9 percent of all African American undergraduate students received a Pell Grant. The average Pell Grant award for African Americans was $4,000.
The new data shows that the median family income of all Pell grant recipients in 200-12 was $26,100. That means that half of all families with a Pell Grant recipient had income below that level and half had incomes above that level. The median income level of Pell Grant recipients has declined in recent years. This means that a greater percentage of students from the lowest income families are receiving Pell Grants.