Nearly $3.6 billion in Pell Grants wasn’t claimed by eligible high school seniors last year, a new analysis from the National College Attainment Network found.
That’s a slight drop from the Class of 2021, which left $3.75 billion in Pell Grants on the table. NCAN’s latest report is the second in a series tracking unclaimed Pell Grant dollars.
The report estimated the amount of unclaimed Pell Grant by looking at Free Application for Financial Student Aid completion rates for each state, the percent of Pell-eligible students who did apply and the average Pell Grant for each state.
Using FAFSA completion rates and Pell Grant eligibility estimates, the report found that about 767,000 Pell-eligible high school seniors didn’t complete the application and thus didn’t receive the grant. Nationally, the average Pell Grant award was $4,686 for the 2022–23 academic year; the maximum award was $6,895.
“Oklahoma, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada are the only five states whose FAFSA non-completion percentage and Pell Grant eligibility percentage are over 50%; consequently, these states (and their students) stand to gain substantially in terms of federal financial aid if they can increase FAFSA completion,” the report says.
More than 1.65 million high school graduates—about 41 percent of the Class of 2022—didn’t complete the FAFSA.
“FAFSA completion performance was generally stronger across the country for the high school class of 2022 than for 2021,” the report says. “This increase was a key driver of the slight decrease in Pell Grant dollars left on the table by the class of 2022 compared to 2021. When the number of Pell Grants left on the table decreases, more students are completing the FAFSA and receiving Pell Grants for which they may be eligible.”