DataPoints: Community colleges and student aid

In the 2017-18 academic year, community colleges received 33 percent of all distributed Pell Grant funds even though they enrolled nearly 41 percent of all undergraduates.

As shown below, students at community colleges received a smaller share of other federal Title IV funds relative to their share of enrollment. Community colleges enroll an even higher percentage of low-income students (46 percent of students in the bottom income quartile) than the rest of higher education. Several factors may influence this discrepancy, such as a higher percent of community college students who attend part-time, an aversion to taking on student loan debt among this population of students, structural funding formulae for programs such as work-study that decrease availability to community colleges, and students not applying for federal aid.

About the Author

Kent Phillippe, Rahel Tekle and Matthew Dembicki
Kent Phillippe is associate vice president for research and student success at the American Association of Community Colleges. Rahel Tekle is an AACC research associate. Matthew Dembicki is the association's director of publications.