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The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education conducts and disseminates research and policy analysis to encourage policymakers, educators, and the public to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and disabled college students.

The Pell Institute is the first research institute to specifically address the issues impacting educational opportunity for this growing population. To examine these issues, the Pell Institute conducts independent research in three areas — access, success, and innovation.

The goals of the Pell Institute include:

  • to serve as an information resource to policymakers and practitioners through the presentation of high-quality, rigorous research and policy analysis that is user-friendly and accessible;
  • to facilitate dialogue about access for low-income, first-generation, and disabled students to higher education; and
  • to work in partnerships at national, regional, state, and institutional levels to maximize the impact of the Pell Institute and to increase its relevancy to improving access to higher education.


The Pell Institute is named for Senator Claiborne Pell (RI-D), who served in the U.S. Senate from 1961 to 1997. Senator Pell was the principal sponsor of the federal Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, the student aid program that helps low-income students go to college. In 1980, the program was renamed the Pell Grant Program to honor the Senator's efforts. To read more about Senator Pell, please click here (.pdf). To read the Pell Institute's statement on Senator Pell's passing and legacy, please click here (.pdf).