Many African American Students Receive Pell Grants: But Do They Graduate?

The Pell Grant program was established in 1972. Today, nearly $30 billion is allocated annually to help children from low-income families attend college. More than 60 percent of all African American college students receive a Pell Grant, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

A new report from Third Way, a nonprofit organization seeking greater opportunity for all Americans, finds that the Pell Grant program has not been very successful in producing college graduates. Among the findings in the report are:

  • After six years, only 49 percent of first-time, full-time Pell recipients earned a bachelor’s degree at the institution where they started.
  • Only 47 percent of institutions graduated half or more of the Pell students who initially enrolled.
  • 214 institutions have Pell graduation rates lower than 25 percent. Of the more than 60,000 Pell students initially enrolled at these institutions combined, only 9,904 of them (16 percent) graduated within six years.
  • Nationally, Pell students graduate at a rate of 18 percentage points less than their non-Pell peers.

The full report, The Pell Divide: How Four-Year Institutions are Failing to Graduate Low- and Moderate-Income Students, may be downloaded here.

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