November 22, 2005

Cornell First in Ivies in Number Of Pell Grants

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Cornell University ranks number one among the Ivies in terms of the number of undergraduate students enrolled receiving financial assistance via Pell Grants, according to data in a weekly electronic newsletter published by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

Figures from the U.S. Department of Education state that 17.2 percent of undergraduate students at Cornell University get this aid. In comparison, about 27 percent of all nationwide undergraduate college students get the same Pell Grant funding. When compared to the overall top 30 universities that provide funding for low income students, Cornell holds the number five slot. Interestingly, all four universities ahead of Cornell are based in California.

Many people consider federal Pell Grant statistics indicators of socio-economic diversity, which often tie into racial diversity. Yet out of the Ivies, Cornell has the lowest percentage of black students among the total student body.

Pell Grants, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid and are awarded based on a formula of determined need after taking into account expected family contribution. The maximum Pell Grant for 2004-2005 was $4,050. The annual family income of the majority of Pell Grant recipients is approximately $35,000.

Monetarily disadvantaged students who fit above this bracket may still be eligible for Pell Grant federal assistance, but the amount is reduced proportionally. Data regarding Pell Grant recipients does not differentiate between the tally of black versus white students. But according to Bruce Slater, Managing Editor for The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, black students do make up a disproportionate number of low-income students who attend college.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education is a quarterly publication that is dedicated to the conscientious investigation of the status and prospects for African Americans in higher education. In each issue, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education collects statistics on the relative status of black and white students in the university sphere.

This data is analyzed in an attempt to critically measure racial progress. Yet other random public opinion polls that compare black and white people are also taken. For instance, one such survey aims to compare the number of black households versus white households that carry credit card debt.

Figures that reflect these more general questions give a snapshot of any disparities that exist in general society and may point to sources of disadvantage for students seeking to attend institutes of higher education.

Cornell University has expanded its Africana Studies and Research Center by about 1000 square feet, adding a renovated library and multi-purpose room that accommodates approximately 115 people and is used for lectures and other various events. The center is located at 310 Triphammer Road on North Campus. Eric Acree, the Africana librarian, said that the “prominence of the new building has attracted an increased number of visitors.”

The Africana Center has the added advantage of being the only library on North Campus, so many nearby residents can retreat there to do work or research. More foot traffic means more promotion for the Africana studies major, which could potentially boost Cornell’s attraction for prospective black students, including those who would be eligible to receive financial aid through Pell Grants. This new investment in Africana studies expansion may set the stage for Cornell climbing even higher on the list in terms of percentage of the student body receiving the opportunity for continued education via Pell Grants.

Archived article by Devan Flahive
Sun Staff Writer