Mission & Purpose Our Team Equity Advisory Panel Internship Partners Contact Us


The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education of the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) conducts and disseminates research and policy analysis to encourage policymakers, educators, and the public to address systemic equity issues in postsecondary education, and improve educational opportunities and outcomes of low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities. The Pell Institute is sponsored by the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). The Pell Institute shares the mission of the Council to advance and defend the ideal of equal opportunity in postsecondary education. As such, the focus of the Council is to ensure that the least advantaged segments of the American population have a realistic chance to enter and graduate from a postsecondary institution.

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 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). To learn more about the Pell Insitute’s history and development, please click here.