- Inside Higher Education details the increase in the number of families and students dependent upon Pell Grant funding for education, which has grown from 6.1 million to 8.2 million between 2008 and 2014, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics.
- The increase in qualifying recipients parallels the decline of the average household income for recipients, which fell from $30,000 in 2003 to $26,100 in 2011.
- The study also found an increasing number of students filing as independent, which means the Expected Family Contribution formula must also be reconsidered.
Federal lawmakers have increased the award amount to Pell grant recipients to $5,815, but have not extended year-round access to the program and have tightened restrictions on eligibility. Changes to the program were among the first rules of right-sizing the Obama Administration enacted to help limit the government's burden of subsidizing education.
Colleges and universities will need to consider fundraising options that provide gap funding exclusively for low-income students who are most likely to require tuition discounts for enrollment, who are seeking a few more credits for graduation, or credentials to help them secure entry-level work while they are enrolled to help defray costs. Otherwise, campuses which are largely tuition-dependent will have an even more cumbersome time of trying to close budget gaps.