Several organizations reporting on higher education issues have estimated a significant gap in the college completion rates of the low-income students who receive federal Pell grants and other college students, leading some to question the effectiveness of this investment of taxpayer dollars. But, according to The Pell Partnership: Ensuring a Shared Responsibility for Low-Income Student Success and online data tool, the average graduation gap between Pell and non-Pell students at the institutional level is actually much smaller: only 5.7 percentage points. And more than a third of four-year colleges and universities have even smaller gaps or no gaps at all. These data deliver a powerful blow to those who question whether taxpayer dollars are being wasted or whether most low-income students are even capable of completing college.

This is great news — but unfortunately the story doesn’t end there.

Written for policymakers, researchers, students and their families, The Pell Partnership gives a full view of Pell Grant graduation rates at nearly 1,150 institutions, including an analysis of the national completion gap and best practices at institutions that are serving low-income students quite well. The paper and accompanying materials provide something these stakeholders have waited far too long for — easily accessible information on how well our nation’s colleges and universities enroll and graduate their low-income students.


Press Release

Methods and Data Collection

Featured Colleges

Data File

Higher Ed Practice Guide

Andrew Nichols, director of Higher Education Research and Data Analytics shares highlights from our latest Education Trust Report on Pell Grant recipients graduation rates.

Check out the full report to see which colleges and universities are doing their part to ensure low-income students succeed, and which ones are not.

Pell Graduation Rate Data Tool

The Education Trust has done our best to provide a solution to these challenges by stitching together a comprehensive database of Pell Grant graduation rates at roughly 1,150 four-year, public and private (nonprofit) institutions and making this information freely available on our website.

The analysis in this report compares the national gap and institutional-level gaps in completion between Pell and non-Pell Grant recipients at nearly 1,175 institutions across the nation. From a national perspective, the findings show that graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients hover around 50 percent and trail the rates of non-Pell Grant recipients by nearly 15 percentage points.

Below are some additional overall findings as well as links to findings sorted by State and Variable to compare Institutions.

Browse Data by State


Affordability & Financial Aid

Completion and Success

Highlighting Successful Models

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