National Survey Shows Strong, Bipartisan Support for the Federal Pell Grant Program

National Survey Shows Strong, Bipartisan Support for the Federal Pell Grant Program

In a climate where political parties, candidates, and even neighbors have a hard time finding common ground, a national survey of registered voters shows bipartisan agreement on support for the Pell Grant program.

According to the survey, 65% of registered voters say they support the Pell Grant program while just 5% oppose it.  The survey also found strong bipartisan support for increasing or doubling the program.  In a split sample test – where half of respondents heard one version of the question and the other heard another – 82% support “expanding” Pell and 75% support “doubling” the Pell Grant.  This widespread support crosses political lines as well:

All Voters 82% 75%
Republicans 77% 66%
Democrats 91% 88%

“This survey reinforces what we’ve seen on campuses nationwide for decades and that is the transformative impact the Pell Grant can have for millions of students and families,” said NAICU President Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.  “The Pell Grant provides opportunities for students of all backgrounds to access their higher education goals, whether those goals are to attend a four-year private or public college or university, a community college, or a job training program.”

The findings show evidence of the public’s support for the eligibility and access the Pell Grant provides, which would increase if the program, approaching its 50th year next June, was expanded.  In a series of messages tested, the most convincing all touched on these themes, including: that Pell Grants “help low-income students, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender or age”; they help with tuition at any kind of two- or four-year institution or training program; expanding the Pell Grant would result in more working-class families becoming eligible for tuition help; and that the program is “proven” and “has bipartisan support.”

Double Pell messages

Support for Pell transcends educational attainment.  Near identical percentages of White and Non-White college graduates and those without four-year degrees support Pell.  Sixty-eight percent (68%) of White college graduates and 69% of graduates of color support Pell, while 62% of White non-college graduates and 66% of non-college graduates of color support the program.

“At a time when the country is so divided politically, it’s rare to see this degree of agreement on anything,” said Margie Omero, principal at GBAO, which conducted the online survey of 1,000 registered voters from November 11-15, 2021.  “The Pell Grant is a well-known and well-liked federal program.  Voters are signaling a desire for policy makers to maintain their support for the Pell Grant and to expand its reach to even more Americans.”

Additional findings include:

  •  While 65% of voters support Pell, the number increases to 87% when respondents were provided a small amount of information about the program.  Support jumped 22 percentage points, while the opposition remained virtually the same (5% to 7%).
  • 59% are either very familiar (24%) or somewhat familiar (35%) with the Pell Grant program.
    • 72% of voters of color are familiar with the Pell program.
  • 42% of voters have either received a Pell Grant themselves or have a member of their immediate family member who received a Pell Grant.

“Now is the time to increase our investment in Pell and expand the program’s reach,” said Mistick.  “The most direct way for the federal government to improve college affordability is to provide increased grant aid directly to students from low- and middle-income families for them to choose the educational path that best suits their needs.  This survey shows Americans are supportive of doubling the Pell Grant and expanding its reach.”

The news release above was reposted with permission from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. The original posting can be found at,-bipartisan-support-for-the-federal-pell-grant-program?page=2