The Pell Institute

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

SFARN 2023

Help raise awareness about the importance of financial aid and its impact on students’ lives.

The Pell Institute is excited to announce that registration is open for the 40th Student Financial Aid Research Network (SFARN) Conference. The conference is premier for discussing student financial aid and higher education finance research and policy. If you are a researcher, practitioner, or policy analyst who cares about student financial aid or higher education finance, register to attend the event today! The Institute hosts the SFARN conference at Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s Heldrick Center, located at 30 Livingston Avenue New Brunswick, NJ. Registration closes Saturday, July 1.


  • $300 for general registration
  • $100 for student registration


From College to Careers: The Pell Institute Receives $748,000 Ascendium Grant to Explore Career Development within TRIO Programs

April 7, 2023

This research aims to provide a framework to help postsecondary institutions develop sustainable and equitable career pathways through strategic career exploration and development programming.


Stay Connected

The Pell Institute is the first research institute to specifically examine the issues affecting educational opportunity for low-income, first-generation, and disabled college students. Learn more about the Pell Institute, including our mission, purpose, goals, and history.



Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States: 2022 Historical Trend Report

This 2022 edition is the 8th in the current series, begun in 2015. This publication brings together again in partnership the Pell Institute with the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy of the University of Pennsylvania (PennAHEAD). Both organizations have a core mission to promote a more open, equitable, and democratic system of higher education. The Pell Institute, with its historical and ongoing ties to the federal TRIO programs, has a special mission to promote more opportunity for low-income and first-generation students, and students with disabilities.

Download the Report

The purposes of this equity indicators project are to: 1) Report the status of higher education equity in the United States and identify changes over time in measures of equity; 2) Identify policies and practices that promote and hinder progress; and 3) Illustrate the need for increased support of policies, programs, and practices that not only improve overall attainment in higher education but also create greater equity in higher education opportunity and outcomes.

The 2018 Indicators report added data describing higher education equity by U.S. state. The 2019 to 2022 Indicators reports continue and expand the inclusion of state data. Considering indicators of equity by state is essential given the many differences across the 50 states in historical, demographic, economic, and political characteristics, as well as the characteristics of their K-12 and higher education systems.

Indicators reports 2015 to 2019 presented a number of indicators for all students and for dependent students. In the 2020 and 2022 Indicators report, we added disaggregation by dependency status (dependent, independent without dependents, and independent with dependents) where data are available.

The 2021 and 2022 Indicators reports also include historical data on the Federal TRIO programs. Data are presented for each of the programs on numbers served, percent of eligible students served, funding levels, and characteristics of students served. Data presented also include the results of the most recent evaluations on college entrance and completion.

In addition to providing longitudinal indicators of equity, the Indicators project is also intended to advance conversations about effective policies and practices for improving equity in higher education opportunities and outcomes. To this end, the Indicators reports periodically include essays intended to connect the indicators to current policy debates. Reflecting the UNESCO Right to Higher Education (RTHE) theme, the 2022 Indicators report includes a brief essay entitled: The Right to Higher Education: Key Challenges in the U.S. Context and Suggested Principles in a Global Context. In 2018, the Indicators project launched the Improving Equity in Higher Education Search for Solutions Blog hosted by PennAHEAD to further advance the discussion of creating meaningful improvements in higher education equity.