According to a recent report released by the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center, the recent increase in the number of Pell grants has allowed more students to attend community colleges. Of the 205 schools included in the report, enrollment increased by at least 9% as the total number of Pell grants increase by more than half. Also, the report indicated that 70% of all community college students received Pell grants in 2009-10, demonstrating the financial importance of this particular grant.
The report, which was conducted in conjunction with Iowa State University and California State University Northridge, is the result of surveys given to the directors of 205 community colleges in twenty five states. The study was set up to help determine the importance of the Pell grant on the education of economically disadvantaged students across the country.
The Pell grant has been around since the early 1970s and gives low-income students the opportunity to earn their college degree without having to fear how they will pay their tuition bills. In an effort to help increase the educational opportunities of these low-income students, the amount associated with the Pell grant has increased each of the last three years. In 2008 students were eligible to receive up to $4,731, while 2010 saw that limit increase to $5,350. Fiscal year 2011 will see yet another increase to the amount of money awarded through a Pell grant all the way up to $5,500 per student. Also, some students can also receive an additional $2,600 in Pell grant funds to pay for summer courses to help expedite their college education.
The recent study shows that the Pell grant is having a positive impact on the higher education of students across the country, especially at community colleges. According to the survey, the number of Pell grants at community colleges increased by 55% in just one year. In 2008-09 there were just over 689,000 community college students leveraging a Pell grant, while 2009-10 saw that number balloon to 1.07 million.