Maximum Pell Grant and Published Prices at Four-Year Institutions over Time

The maximum Pell Grant amount, which is legislated by Congress, has fluctuated over time. The $5,920 maximum Pell Grant in 2017-18 was 44% higher in inflation-adjusted dollars than it was 20 years earlier, but only 5% higher than it was 40 years earlier, in 1977-78.

Figure 21B: Inflation-Adjusted Maximum Pell Grant and Published Prices at Public and Private Nonprofit Four-Year Institutions in 2018 Dollars, 1998-99 to 2018-19

Notes & Sources 

SOURCES: The College Board, Trends in College Pricing 2018, Table 2 online; U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid Data Center.   

  • The percentage of average public four-year in-state published tuition and fees covered by the maximum Pell Grant declined from 92% in 1998-99 to 72% in 2008-09 and to 60% in 2018-19.
  • The percentage of average private nonprofit four-year published tuition and fees covered by the maximum Pell Grant declined from 20% in 1998-99 to 19% in 2008-09 and to 17% in 2018-19.