The data available on this website provides information about the economic diversity, tuition charged, grants and loans received, and other characteristics of undergraduates at about 2,700 public two-year community colleges, public four-year, and private four-year colleges and universities. It includes data for the 2000-01 and 2004-05 academic years for about 1,000 community colleges, 600 public four-year, and 1,100 private four-year colleges and universities. This site does not include data on proprietary (for-profit) schools, vocational schools that do not award associate’s degrees, or private junior colleges.
Included among the 128 data elements are several types of information that provide insights into the income distribution of students at individual colleges. One is the percentage of all undergraduates who received federal Pell grants. Pell grants generally go to families with incomes under $40,000. The percentage of students with Pell grants in a college has become a widely-used indicator of the proportion of low-income students at traditional four-year colleges. Pell data can be compared across institutions and between years on this website.
Another indicator, developed for this website from federal data, provides estimates of the income distribution of all dependent students at a campus (generally those under 24 years old). These are reported by campuses and are based on applications for federal financial aid. Data is also available on the income distribution of independent students who apply for financial aid.
Racial and ethnic diversity, student borrowing, applications for financial aid, graduation rates, tuition levels, and many more data elements available on this website provide additional information for researchers and the public.
Care should be taken in reaching conclusions based solely on these data. Students are not required to report their family income unless they apply for financial aid. In many cases (particularly at higher-cost colleges), it is reasonable to assume that those who do not apply for financial aid tend to come from high-income families. But particularly at open-admission colleges, students may be unaware that they are eligible for aid, or they may decide that the tuition for the courses that they are taking is not enough to bother with the financial aid application paperwork. Part-time students pursuing undergraduate degrees are eligible for federal Pell grants, but colleges with higher proportions of part-time students generally have lower proportions of financial aid applicants.