Total Pell Grant Expenditures and Number of Recipients over Time

Despite declines of about 25% between 2011-12 and 2016-17 in both the number of Pell Grant recipients and program expenditures, 38% more recipients received 75% more (in 2016 dollars) in 2016-17 than 10 years earlier.

Figure 15B: Total Pell Grant Expenditures and Number of Recipients, 1976-77 to 2016-17

Figure 15B represents Total Pell Expenditures and Number of Recipients, 1976-77 to 2016-17. For a corresponding Section 508-compliant data table, download the Excel spreadsheet.

Notes & Sources 

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Education, Federal Pell Grant Program End-of-Year Report, 1981-82 through 2015-16; Federal Student Aid Data Center, Title IV Program Volume Reports and Aid Recipients Summary; calculations by the authors.

  • The percentage of Pell Grant recipients who are independent students, with eligibility determined by their own financial circumstances rather than those of their parents, increased from 38% in 1976-77 to 58% in 1996-97. This percentage was 53% in 2015-16.