Celebrating 50 years of the Pell Grant — increasing accessibility and affordability in higher education

Thursday, June 23, marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 by President Richard Nixon. These amendments created the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, later named the Pell Grant in honor of its sponsor, Sen. Claiborne Pell. Since 1972, the Pell Grant program has helped over 80 million American students access higher education.

Pell Grants are undoubtedly important to accessibility and affordability in higher education. It is a proven, targeted program that serves as the cornerstone of the nation’s federal student aid programs supporting approximately 7 million students with financial need (34% of undergraduate students across the nation). Students who receive more grant aid can opt to work less, take more courses, attend college full time, concentrate on their academics and improve their likelihood of degree completion.

The Pell Grant is an equalizer that can be used to pay tuition and other educational and living expenses directly related to the cost of attending college, making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Over 80% of Pell recipients had family income under $40,000.

This foundational grant also ensures greater diversity in post-secondary education as affordability is a disproportionate challenge for students of color and students of color benefit in greater percentage from Pell.

For students and their families, applying for a Pell Grant is as simple as filing their annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students receive the Pell award based on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) — full-time undergraduates with a $0 EFC receive the maximum award, which is $6,895 for the 2022-23 academic year, a $400 increase over the prior year.

Following is a snapshot of Pell Grants at Marquette — by the numbers:

Academic year 2021-22

1,594Number of undergraduate Pell recipients
21%Percentage of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants
$6,495Maximum Pell award
$4,739Average Pell award
14%Percentage of tuition covered by the maximum Pell Grant award
11%Percentage of tuition covered by the average Pell Grant award

Learn more about federal Pell Grants at Marquette Central.