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Short Title

Pell Grant Eligibility and Receipt

Abstract

In examining national data on Federal Pell Grant eligibility in the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), we were puzzled to discover that many students who appear to have eligible Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) do not receive the award. We use institutional data from a large public university to understand and enumerate changes from initial Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) EFC to final Pell Grant EFC and explore why EFC changes occur. We determine that the nonreceipt of Pell Grant observed in NPSAS is likely due to NPSAS not reporting final Pell Grant EFCs. We examine how the verification process results in changes to EFC and describe how nearly half of students who experienced a change in EFC during the award year were not asked to verify. We also observe that selection for Quality Assurance verification and EFC changes varied based on students’ demographics characteristics. The paper concludes with discussion of improving the verification process.

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