Resources / Projects


Staff and Senior Scholars at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education regularly present at conferences and meetings throughout the United States and the world. This section provides selected presentations from Institute staff in downloadable formats.

On September 15, 2021, the Pell Institute presented at 40th Annual Conference hosted by the Council for Opportunity in Education. The Pell Institute was founded midway in COE’s history—when neither class nor parents’ education were the focus of many access and retention discussions. Those discussions have changed in recent years and first-generation status has now become an important data point in college opportunity discussions. Learn the history and role of the Pell Institute’s annual report, Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States, as well as the importance of researcher/practitioner partnerships in assuring a voice for low-income and first-generation students and educators in research and evaluation.

  • 40th Annual Conference
    • Building Knowledge, Defining Post-Secondary Opportunity and Establishing a Baseline — Significant Disparities by Income on Each Indicator
      Terry Vaughan III, Ph.D., Associate Director, The Pell Institute
      Alysia Genao, Research Assistant, The Pell Institute

On February 20, 2015, the Pell Institute opened for the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) Dialogues 2015. The topic was how to widen the participation of low-income, first generation, and students with disabilities in the evidence based effective practice of contributory undergraduate research. CUR Dialogues is designed to bring faculty and administrators to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to interact with federal agency program officers and other grant funders.

On February 3, 2015, the Pell Institute held a meeting at the National Press Club to release their report Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 45 Year Trend Report. The report, published jointly by the Penn Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (Penn AHEAD) of the University of Pennsylvania and the Pell Institute with support from the Travelers Foundation, draws on U.S. Census statistics and educational data to make the compelling and disturbing case that inequality in obtaining a college education has substantially grown in the past 45 years.

At the Council for Opportunity in Education’s 26th Annual Conference (September 2007), The Pell Institute sponsored two strands, “Student Retention Strategies That Work” and “Research You Can Use.” All session titles are listed below, and include the presenters’ PowerPoint presentations, if available.

  • Student Retention Strategies That Work
    • Tools to Improve Campus-Wide Retention (.ppt)
      Derek Price, Director, DVP-Praxis LTD
      Vincent Tinto, Professor, Syracuse University, and Senior Scholar, The Pell Institute
    • Strategies for Improving Student Retention — A Problem-Solving Session (.ppt)
      Vincent Tinto, Professor, Syracuse University, and Senior Scholar, The Pell Institute
    • Adapting the Learning Communities Model and Service-Learning to Student Support Services
      Rashne Jehangir, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota
      Kate Williams, Director, NOVA Student Support Services, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Research You Can Use
    • What Works for College Access in Middle School
      Jane Ageyman, Project Director, Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search, Iowa State University
      Laura Gemery, Community Outreach Manager, The Sallie Mae Fund
    • How to Rev Up Math/Science Programming: Lessons Learned from Upward Bound Math/Science
      Kathryn Kailikole, Executive Director for STEM Program Development, Council for Opportunity in Education
      Lana Muraskin, Senior Scholar, The Pell Institute
    • Setting the Record Straight — How Trendy Approaches to College Access Might or Might Not Be Helping Low-Income Students (.ppt)
      Jennifer Lerner, Program Associate, American Youth Policy Forum


The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, in partnership with the Pathways to College Network, is pleased to announce the public release of the Evaluation Toolkit. This Evaluation Toolkit has two purposes:

  1. The first goal is to develop a freely accessible, research-based Evaluation Toolkit that will enable outreach programs to more readily and systematically use data and outcome measures to improve service delivery.
  2. The second goal is to promote research that will identify effective program models across outreach programs and document the collective impact of programs by using the evaluation data generated through the common assessment framework in the Toolkit.

The Evaluation Toolkit consists of a basic information section called Evaluation 101. It also has an Evaluation Guide which consists of sections on how to develop a plan, collect data, analyze data and communicate and improve. To get started, please visit the Evaluation Toolkit at ( The Evaluation Toolkit was funded by The Lumina Foundation for Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.



Educational Opportunity Centers

The Educational Opportunity Centers program provides counseling and information on college admissions to qualified adults who want to enter or continue a program of postsecondary education. The program also provides services to improve the financial and economic literacy of participants. An important objective of the program is to counsel participants on financial aid options, including basic financial planning skills, and to assist in the application process. The goal of the EOC program is to increase the number of adult participants who enroll in postsecondary education institutions.

Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement

Through a grant competition, funds are awarded to institutions of higher education to prepare eligible participants for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Participants are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have demonstrated strong academic potential. Institutions work closely with participants as they complete their undergraduate requirements. Institutions encourage participants to enroll in graduate programs and then track their progress through to the successful completion of advanced degrees. The goal is to increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society.

Student Support Services

Through a grant competition, funds are awarded to institutions of higher education to provide opportunities for academic development, assist students with basic college requirements, and to motivate students toward the successful completion of their postsecondary education. Student Support Services (SSS) projects also may provide grant aid to current SSS participants who are receiving Federal Pell Grants (# 84.063). The goal of SSS is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants.

Talent Search

The Talent Search program identifies and assists individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. The program provides academic, career, and financial counseling to its participants and encourages them to graduate from high school and continue on to and complete their postsecondary education. The program publicizes the availability of financial aid and assist participant with the postsecondary application process. Talent Search also encourages persons who have not completed education programs at the secondary or postsecondary level to enter or reenter and complete postsecondary education. The goal of Talent Search is to increase the number of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who complete high school and enroll in and complete their postsecondary education.

Upward Bound

Upward Bound provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their precollege performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. Upward Bound serves: high school students from low-income families; and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.

Upward Bound Math-Science

The Upward Bound Math and Science program is designed to strengthen the math and science skills of participating students. The goal of the program is to help students recognize and develop their potential to excel in math and science and to encourage them to pursue postsecondary degrees in math and science, and ultimately careers in the math and science profession.

Veterans Upward Bound

Veterans Upward Bound is designed to motivate and assist veterans in the development of academic and other requisite skills necessary for acceptance and success in a program of postsecondary education. The program provides assessment and enhancement of basic skills through counseling, mentoring, tutoring and academic instruction in the core subject areas. The primary goal of the program is to increase the rate at which participants enroll in and complete postsecondary education programs.


The Pell Institute does not administer or collect data on Pell grants; however, since we often receive queries, we have provided the information below as a resource.

The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain postbaccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating postsecondary institutions. Grant amounts are dependent on: the student’s expected family contribution (EFC) (see below); the cost of attendance (as determined by the institution); the student’s enrollment status (full-time or part-time); and whether the student attends for a full academic year or less.

Students may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.

Financial need is determined by the U.S. Department of Education using a standard formula, established by Congress, to evaluate the financial information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and to determine the family EFC. The fundamental elements in this standard formula are the student’s income (and assets if the student is independent), the parents’ income and assets (if the student is dependent), the family’s household size, and the number of family members (excluding parents) attending postsecondary institutions. The EFC is the sum of: (1) a percentage of net income (remaining income after subtracting allowances for basic living expenses and taxes) and (2) a percentage of net assets (assets remaining after subtracting an asset protection allowance). Different assessment rates and allowances are used for dependent students, independent students without dependents, and independent students with dependents. After filing a FAFSA, the student receives a Student Aid Report (SAR), or the institution receives an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which notifies the student if he or she is eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and provides the student’s EFC.

Please visit the U.S. Department of Education for additional information about the Federal Pell Grant Program, including programmatic information for students, parents, and others who may be interested.


On an annual basis, the Pell Institute conducts the TRIO Compensation Survey to assess the levels at which institutions and organizations compensate college outreach professionals. The survey collects and compares compensation data by program, position, institutional division, institutional type, geographical location, demographic characteristics, educational level, length of employment, and employment status.

The 2019/2020 Compensation Survey is currently being analyzed by Erick Montenegro, Senior Research Associate of The Pell Institute. To access survey results, click here.

For any questions, please contact Terry Vaughan III ([email protected]).


The Pell Institute recently closed its National TRIO COVID-19 survey. COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of TRIO programs, from program management to student engagement. However, the degree and implications of this impact on a national level are not well known. Subsequently, the Pell Institute conducted the survey to understand (1) how the COVID-19 pandemic has uniquely affected TRIO participants, staff, and programming, and (2) How the COVID-19 pandemic may affect future TRIO programs and services.

The results from the Pell COVID survey will be shared in the upcoming (2022) special issue of the Opportunity Matters Journal through a joint effort with Pell research partners (which includes McNair scholars) also working on research seeking to understand the impact of COVID-19 on TRIO programs.

Terry Vaughan III, PhD
Vice President of Research, Director of the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education