EPI's weekly illustration of education data trends — September 21, 2016

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Changes in Pell Grant Participation and Median Family Income of Recipients, 1999-00 to 2011-12


In 2011-12, one-out-of-two independent students (48 percent) in higher education received a Pell Grant, compared to 33 percent four years previous and 25 percent in 1999-00. The shifts were similarly dramatic for dependent students, where one-of-three students (35 percent) received a Pell Grant in 2011-12, compared to 22 percent four years earlier and 19 percent back in 1999-00.

This is due to two reasons. First, the continuing spiral of college costs and prices is broadening the need for Pell Grants as need increases. Second, due to these cost issues, the median family income of recipients has gone down after adjusting for inflation. In 2011-12, The median family income for dependent students was $26,100. Comparatively, that amount was about $30,000 in both 1999-00 and 2003-04. The same trend is evident for independent students, whose MFI was $12,700 in 2011-12 and $14,300 in 1999-00.

Percent of students receiving Pell Grants


Median Family Income for Recipients of Pell Grants


SOURCE: US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, DATA POINT, September 2016. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2016/2016407.pdf