Texas State’s Pell Grant recipients and total dollars administered have grown significantly over the last decade.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, Texas State rose from 10th to fourth place in total Pell Grant awards given to students in Texas among four-year universities from 2007 – 2017. The university also made advancements in total Pell Grant recipients, moving from ninth to fifth in the state of Texas during the same time period.
Pell Grants are federal funds allotted to students with the goal of making higher education more obtainable for those who lack the financial means to pay their tuition comfortably. The amount provided can vary based on the applicant’s financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. Prospective students are automatically considered for Pell Grants predicated on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid submission.
According to data acquired from the U.S. Department of Education, Pell Grant awards and recipients increased from 2% and 10% from the 2008 school year to 2017. This increase correlates with the growth of the university student population, the university reporting 27,509 enrolled students spring 2008 and, now, reporting over 38,000 in 2016.
Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at Texas State Christopher Murr said change can be partially attributed to the growth of the university over the last decade.
“We do have a growing enrolment at this institution—over the past 10 years—and you’d expect some of that growth to be based on that overall enrollment growth,” Murr said.
According to Texas State’s Office of Institutional Research, overall minority student enrollment surpassed 50% in fall 2019. Murr said Texas State’s diverse student body is a contributor to the increase in Pell Grant recipients and dollars.
“(Texas State is) seeing more higher needs students enrolling, and I think that is reflective of the university being a very diverse institution in terms of student enrollment,” Murr said. “We’re at a university where we have many students that have a high financial need so they are able to access higher education.”
Amoung 4-year universities in Texas, Texas State passed larger universities in Pell Grant Dollars and recipients over the 10-year period.
Hannah Durrance, history graduate student and instructional assistant, was a Pell Grant recipient during her undergraduate studies. Intermittently throughout her studies, Durrance struggled with homelessness and subsequently found it difficult to afford her tuition at Texas State. She said she was only able to attend Texas State due to the Pell Grants she received.
“With housing costs being as high as they were, the Pell Grant paid for all of my tuition,” Durrance said. “(The Pell Grant) was very beneficial because I wouldn’t have been able to take out enough student loans to pay for the housing costs, utilities and tuition. I wouldn’t have been able to attend college without it.”
Murr said Pell Grants, in tandem with other financial resources for students, are sometimes determinant on whether or not the student is able to attend college.
“Some students are often coming from families that, due to no fault of their own, are struggling financially and if it weren’t for the Pell Grant their opportunities to attend Texas State would be more limited,” Murr said. “For a lot of students (grants) make the difference between their ability to or not to attend Texas State.”
Pell Grant recipient Alexis Duran, consumer affairs junior, said the additional funds ease the burden of budgeting for her and her family when purchasing school supplies and other essentials.
“There is way less stress on me and my mom when paying for college and everything,” Duran said. “I now have more room and space in my budget to focus on other things like textbooks, food and other things.”
James Rex, economics senior, contributed to the data analyzation in this article.