1. A majority of four-year institutions fail to serve their Pell students well.
After six years, only 49% of first-time, full-time Pell recipients earned a bachelor’s degree at the institution where they started. Only 47% of institutions graduated half or more of the Pell students who initially enrolled. 214 institutions have Pell graduation rates lower than 25%. Of the more than 60,000 Pell students initially enrolled at these institutions combined, only 9,904 of them (16%) graduated within six years.
2. For many institutions, there is a gap between how well they serve their Pell and non-Pell students. Nationally, Pell students graduate at a rate of 18 percentage points less than their non-Pell peers. The average institutional Pell Gap is 7 percentage points, with 1,245 out of 1,566 institutions (80%) graduating Pell students at a lower rate than their non-Pell peers. Of the institutions who graduate Pell students at a lower rate, 573 institutions have gaps greater than 10 percentage points—97 of which have gaps larger than 20 percentage points. Yet it is not impossible to serve Pell students well, as 242 of 1,566 institutions have higher graduation rates for their Pell students than their non-Pell students.
3. Many students have spotty access to high-performing Pell-Serving Institutions (PSIs). 965 of 1,566 four-year institutions serve an above average (37% or more) percentage of Pell students. We call these institutions “Pell-Serving Institutions” (PSIs) throughout our analysis. Only 246 of these Pell-Serving Institutions (25%) have Pell graduation rates at or above 50%.Seven states have no PSIs with Pell graduation rates greater than 50%. Only 48 PSIs graduate two-thirds or more of their Pell students.Of the PSIs with a Pell share greater than 80%, only ten have graduation rates greater than 50% and a mere three graduate more than 60%.7