Postsecondary Education Opportunity


Postsecondary Education Opportunity (PEO) is a research newsletter started and maintained by the Pell Institute Senior Scholar Tom Mortenson. This newsletter is founded on two fundamental beliefs. First, sound public social policy requires accurate, current, independent, and focused information on the human condition. Second, education is essential to the development of human potential and resources for both private and public benefit. Therefore, the purpose of this research newsletter is to inform those who formulate, fund, and administer public policy and programs about the condition of and influences that affect postsecondary education opportunity for all Americans. For registration information, click here.


The Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter is published periodically throughout the year. The newsletter presents the analysis of college access, success, employment, and opportunity for social mobility. The newsletter uses publicly available data to illustrate how policy choices affect students and family in different social class. Our hope of the newsletter is to help readers to see their problems, challenges and everyday experiences are not isolated, but they are common across people and social policy and systems shape some of their experience. Some topics are covered regularly to review changes over time. These topics include educational opportunity by family income, state investment in higher education, and college continuation rate by state.

You can see entire newsletter and data files used for the newsletters by registering.

Permission is granted to make copies from the research letter providing copies are not sold and the source is identified. All articles are in (.pdf) format and can be viewed and printed with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.


State reports contain state specific data that are compiled for PEO newsletters. The data files for 50 states and the District of Columbia are updated periodically when new data become available. Registrants have access to all data files.

Below are some of the data files for example for the state of Florida:

  • Gender Data for Children
  • State, Local & Federal Fiscal Support for Higher Education, FY1961 to FY2020
  • Pell Grant Recipients, 1976-77 to 2017-18
  • College Participation for Students from Low Income Families, 1992 to 2018
  • Median Family Income and Household Income, 1959 to 2018
  • Upward Bound — Math & Science Coverage 1999-00 to 2017-18


Below is a list of recent updates to our state reports and other data files compiled for new topics covered by the newsletter and conference presentations. You can see entire data files by registering to PEO.

  • National School Lunch Program, State-Level Data, FFY1989 to FFY2020
    This workbook provides annual, state-level data on participation by K-12 students in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program. School children approved for free lunches come from the lowest family income levels, and those approved for reduced price lunches come from somewhat high but still low-income families. This data is useful when measuring the number of children from low-income families enrolled in K-12 education and headed for higher education in each state.
  • Educational Attainment, 1989 to 2020
  • Public High School Graduation Rates, 1981-2020


Our primary intent with the posters is to alert students in secondary education to the advantages of postsecondary education and training. We want students who might never have thought about college to start asking questions. We want students who may not appreciate the importance of their college prep coursework in high school to take that coursework more seriously. There are about 30,000 secondary schools in the United States, and our posters have not yet reached more than a few hundred of them. We would like to see our readers print and/or share posters with secondary schools in the regions that they serve. Posters are free to download. For a complete listing of posters, click here.

Click on the poster thumbnails below for a colored 8 1/2” x 11” (.pdf) version that you may print or save to your computer.


The following are handouts of recently invited presentations on educational opportunity by Tom Mortenson. These handouts typically contain the outline and main points covered in the presentation, as well as the charts shared during the presentation. While the posting of these handouts is mainly intended for those who were present, anyone is welcome to share these reports for their own use.

All presentations are in (.pdf) or Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt) format. For those who download and use these presentations, we only ask that the appropriate citation (listing this website as the source) be included with such use.

Tom Mortenson is available for public speaking on topics related to public policy and opportunity for higher education. To invite him to speak at your event, please contact him by e-mail ([email protected]) or by phone at (641) 673-3401.



The PEO Archive is free to all but you must be registered in the COE system. All Members of COE or a Community of Practice Member are registered and will use their same log-in usernames and password to gain access. If you are not in the COE system, you can create a free account that gives you full access to the PEO Library. After registering, your username and password will be your digital library card to access current and past PEO newsletters, state reports, spreadsheets, presentations, and posters. 


Monthly Newsletter — you will receive periodic issues of Postsecondary Education OPPORTUNITY.

Full Access to Data — you will have access to all of our research data that is online.

Vital Information — get the statistics/data you need for proposals, grant writing and much more.

Latest Statistics — we are continually updating our research data with the most up-to-date data.

Online Newsletter — you can access the current and archived issues of OPPORTUNITY anytime.

News Flash Delivery — receive a periodic e-mail or news flash as new data or updates become available.

If you already have a COE login, please log in here.

If you forgot your username or password please click here.

To create an account through COE, please click here. You may also be interested in joining the Research, Evaluation, and Data Use Community. To join, click here.

If you have questions about logging in to your account, please contact Rosa Spencer at ([email protected]).

If you have questions about past newsletters/research data, please contact Nicole Brunt at ([email protected]) or Marisha Addison at ([email protected]).

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

Pell Institute PDF

Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 2022 Historical Trend Report (.pdf)


Travelers EDGE — 10 Years of College Access and Success

Pell Institute PDF

Travelers EDGE — 10 Years of College Access and Success (.pdf)


Reflections on Connecting Research and Practice in College Access and Success Programs

Pell Institute PDF

Reflections on Connecting Research and Practice in College Access and Success Programs (.pdf)