Left on the Table

Money Left on the Table

An Analysis of Pell Grant Receipt Among Financially-Eligible Community College Students in California


The Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research at the UC Davis School of Education released “Money Left on the Table,” a research brief showing that California community college students are missing out on nearly $130 million in a single semester in vital Pell Grant funding.

Download the report here.

The Pell Grant opens the door to opportunity for low-income students and is vital to the academic success of almost half a million community college students in California. This report shines a light on how many more California students might garner the support they need to pay for books, food and housing so they can focus on completing their degree.

“Being a nontraditional student, the Pell Grant has enabled me to focus on my studies without having to worry if I’ll be able to buy food that month. It helps to cover my books and helps with my housing costs as well.” Christina Bauer, 34, a full-time community college student.

Wheelhouse is conducting further research into the factors that lead to students not receiving Pell Grant aid. But, in the meantime, district and campus leaders and financial aid administrators should examine their own Pell Grant data and processes.

According to California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, “California community colleges have the lowest fees in the nation and a generous fee-waiver program that covers fees for half of all students. Yet, with rising costs of living, books and transportation, our students continue to struggle to make ends meet. The federal Pell Grant program provides a vital resource to offset the full costs of attendance and help our students be successful. The Wheelhouse findings are a call to action for our system, to ensure students are receiving the aid for which they are eligible and that financial aid offices are adequately funded to perform these duties.”

By strengthening financial aid advising and removing unnecessary barriers, we can better ensure California students get the financial assistance they deserve and are put on the path toward academic success. Download the report here.

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