In order to reverse the troubling low graduation rates at our nation’s community colleges, low-income students must stop being financially penalized for attending these institutions. As this brief outlines, low-income students who attend community college receive less state and institutional grant aid, on average, than their counterparts at four-year public universities. Community College Students and Grant Aid recommends that states equalize their need-based grant allocation and that community colleges prioritize need-based institutional aid. The brief also highlights the need to strengthen community colleges’ fundraising capabilities, for their limited financial resources limit their ability to award institutional grants.
- The grant aid and federal tax benefits received by low-income dependent community college students enabled them to pay for their tuition and fees and left them with $1,250 to pay towards the rest of their expenses. By comparison, after paying about $3,800 more in tuition and fees than community college students, public four-year students were left with over $1,720 to cover other college-related expenses.
- Nearly half of Pell Grant recipients attending community college full-time received state grants averaging $1,689, while nearly 57 percent of their counterparts at four-year colleges received state grants averaging $3,460.
- Nearly a quarter of Pell Grant recipients attending community college full-time received an institutional grant averaging $1,011, while 41 percent of their counterparts at four-year colleges received institutional grants averaging $3,606.
- In 2007-08, community colleges, enrolled about 6.65 million undergraduate students and distributed $666 million in institutional grants, compared to $5 billion by public four-year colleges which enrolled about 5.95 million undergraduates.