Pell Grant Statistics

Report Highlights. Nationwide, 34% of undergraduate students receive a Pell grant.

  • The average Pell Grant award is $4,491.
  • 51% of Pell Grant funds go to students whose families earn less than $20,000 annually – the largest majority.
  • The maximum amount an individual can receive from the Pell Grant is $6,495.
  • 68% of Pell Grant funds go to public universities.

Related reports include Financial Aid Statistics | Public Education Spending Statistics | How Do People Pay for College? | College Savings Statistics | How to Pay Off Student Loan Debt Fast

Average Pell Grant Award on Education Data Initiative

Pell Grant Award by Financial Need

Pell Grant awards are determined by Expected Family Contributions (EFC). EFC’s are determined by annual family income, household size, and number of dependents. EFC changes if the student themselves are a dependent or independent. Typically, the more the family earns, the higher the EFC – resulting in a lowered Pell Grant award.

  • 51% of Pell Grant funds go to students whose families earn less than $20,000 annually – the largest majority.
  • 38% of Pell Grant recipients came from families whose annual income falls between $20,001 and $50,000.
  • Only 5% of Pell Grant recipients come from families that earn over $60,000 or more annually.
Award amount based on Expected Family Contribution
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Annual Full Time Award
$0 $6,495.00
$1 – $500 $6,445 – $6,045
$501 – $1,000 $5,945 – $5,545
$1,001 – $1,500 $5,445 – $5,045
$1,501 – $2,000 $4,945 – $4,545
$2,001 – $2,500 $4,445 – $4,045
$2,501 – $3,000 $3,945 – $3,545
$3,001 – $3,500 $3,345 – $3,045
$3,501 – $4,000 $2,945 – $2,545
$4,001 – $4,500 $2,445 – $2,045
$4,501 – $5,000 $1,945 – $1,545
$5,001 – $5,500 $1,445 – $1,045
$5,501 – $5,845 $945 – $672
$5,487 or higher $0

Average Pell Grant Award by School Type

The majority of Pell Grant awards go to public colleges. 4-year public college students obtain the most Pell Grant funding compared to students from other college types.The averages below are from the 2017 to 2018 school year.

  • The average Pell Grant award for a student in a public 4-year university is $4,299.
  • The average Pell Grant award for a student in a public 2-year university is $3,567.
  • For a student from a private 4-year university, the average Pell Grant is $4,257.
  • For a student from a private 2-year university, the average Pell Grant is $4,628.
  • 68% of Pell Grant funds go to public schools.
  • 17% of Pell Grant funds go to private for profit schools.
  • 15% of Pell Grant funds go to private non-profit schools.
Cost of Attendance covered by Pell Grant
School Type Cost of Attendance (COA) Percent of COA covered by Maximum Pell Grant ($6,495)
Public 2-year (in-state prices, off campus housing) $20,803 31.2%
Public 2-year (in-state prices, living with family) $11,320 57.4%
Public 4-year (in-state prices, living on campus) $25,048 25.9%
Private 4-year (living on campus) $43,873 14.8%

Pell Grant Award Maximum

There is a maximum amount of Pell Grant funds an individual can receive in their lifetime. An individual can receive up to 100% of their Pell Grant award for up to 6 years. In some cases, an individual may receive funding less than or more than 100% of that year’s maximum allotment. The disparity in funds received is balanced out the next year.

  • For example, a student may receive $5,500 one year, but the maximum Pell Grant award for that year is $5,000.
  • The next year, $500 would be taken out of that student’s Pell Grant award.
  • The maximum amount an individual can receive from the Pell Grant this year is $6,495.

Maximum Pell Grant Award on Education Data Initiative

Pell Grant Award Average by State

State residency has no bearing on the amount a student may receive from the Pell Grant. What determines the amount awarded is the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 

  • California is the state with the most Pell Grant recipients at 938,931.
  • Wyoming is the state with the least amount of Pell Grant recipients at 7,545.
  • Mississippi has the highest average Pell Grant award at $4,499.
  • Minnesota has the lowest average Pell Grant award at $3,631.
Table of Pell Grant Award Average by State
State Total Recipients Average Award per Recipient
Alabama 125,913 $4,109
Alaska 10,150 $3,745
Arizona 241,734 $3,906
Arkansas 64,697 $4,184
California 938,931 $4,100
Colorado 115,544 $3,798
Connecticut 77,065 $3,649
Delaware 17,385 $3,748
District of Columbia 39,816 $3,924
Florida 489,472 $4,126
Georgia 228,026 $4,065
Hawaii 17,845 $4,005
Idaho 43,130 $4,132
Illinois 264,460 $3,935
Indiana 150,822 $3,842
Iowa 60,247 $3,993
Kansas 57,929 $3,925
Kentucky 93,712 $3,961
Louisiana 102,716 $4,117
Maine 23,930 $3,943
Maryland 104,443 $3,637
Massachusetts 122,588 $3,983
Michigan 194,896 $3,829
Minnesota 116,995 $3,631
Mississippi 75,904 $4,499
Missouri 125,404 $3,949
Montana 15,469 $4,026
Nebraska 35,979 $3,826
Nevada 41,130 $3,692
New Hampshire 58,917 $2,757
New Jersey 160,110 $4,162
New Mexico 44,156 $3,814
New York 455,599 $4,385
North Carolina 203,124 $4,083
North Dakota 11,365 $4,032
Ohio 205,560 $3,856
Oklahoma 81,189 $3,993
Oregon 77,275 $3,795
Pennsylvania 216,098 $4,032
Rhode Island 28,675 $3,917
South Carolina 91,246 $4,059
South Dakota 19,066 $3,805
Tennessee 133,225 $4,123
Texas 577,542 $4,082
Utah 125,681 $4,092
Vermont 10,641 $3,835
Virginia 170,632 $3,988
Washington 104,023 $3,985
West Virginia 50,002 $3,957
Wisconsin 95,719 $3,762
Wyoming 7,545 $3,908

Pell Grant Average by Demographics

The most recent data on Pell Grant distribution by race and gender is from 2015-2016. Asians/Pacific Islanders receive the largest Pell Grants on average. However, Black students are more likely to receive the Pell Grant in general. On average, men and women receive the same amount of aid from the Pell Grant. However, women are more likely to receive the Pell Grant in the first place.

  • The average Pell Grant award for White students is $3,300.
  • The average Pell Grant award for Black students is $3,400.
  • For Hispanic students, the average award is $3,500.
  • For Asian/Pacific Islander students, the average award is $3,800.
  • American Indians who received the Pell Grant averaged $3,400.
  • Individuals in the other category or two or more races averaged $3,500.
  • The average Pell Grant award for a male student is $3,700.
  • The average Pell Grant award for a female student is $3,700.
  • 34% of all male college students received the Pell Grant.
  • 43% of all female college students received the Pell Grant

Race Receiving Pell Grant on Education Data Initiative

Sources

  1. Federal Student Aid: Federal Pell Grants are usually awarded only to undergraduate students
  2. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Financial Aid – What is the percent of undergraduate students awarded Pell grants?
  3. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Pell Grants – A key tool for expanding college access and economic opportunity – need strengthening, not cuts
  4. National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA): Issue Brief- Doubling the Maximum Pell Grant
  5. Urban Institute: Federal Grant Aid – Pell Grants
  6. CollegeBoard: What Is a Pell Grant?