Pell Recipient Enrollment Down at Privates, Survey Says

October 16, 2020

Fewer Pell Grant recipients enrolled in private nonprofit colleges this fall.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities surveyed 292 private nonprofit colleges on their enrollment. Over all, it's dropped about 2 percent compared to the fall of 2019. But Pell Grant recipient enrollment has dropped at four times that rate. The federal Pell Grant is awarded to low-income students.

“College and university leaders have been remarkably resilient and creative in how they’ve responded to both the serious health implications the virus has imposed on campus and the need to adapt to continue educating their students in a safe environment,” Barbara K. Mistick, president of NAICU, said in a news release. “However, the data clearly demonstrate the significant impact the pandemic is having on students and families, especially those who are low-income. Like other areas of the economy, this pandemic has hit lower-income families especially hard and higher education is no exception.”

Most of these colleges and universities are using blended virtual and in-person models to teach as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Enrollment didn't change, and even increased, at some 43 percent of private nonprofit colleges, but it fell at 57 percent of private nonprofits.

Other data track similarly to the latest report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Undergraduate enrollment at private nonprofit colleges is down 4 percent, compared to a 1.3 percent decline in graduate enrollment. Baccalaureate colleges are seeing the largest enrollment declines, followed by master's-granting colleges and universities and doctoral universities.

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