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Frequently asked questions about MIT's Pell Matching Grants program

What is a Pell Grant?

As the foundation of federal student financial aid, Pell Grants are the largest federal grant program for undergraduate education. Originally named the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, the program was created in 1972 by Senator Claiborne Pell, then-chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Pell Grants are targeted to the neediest families and are awarded using a tiered approach. Pell Grants award amounts can change yearly depending on a family's changing financial circumstances, as reported in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Pell Grant awards for the 2006-2007 award year will range from $400 to $4,050.

How are Pell Grants awarded?

Families are awarded a Pell Grant by the federal government. The grants are administered by the federal government and participating institutions are reimbursed for the grant money disbursed to eligible students.

What is the range of Pell Grant awards at MIT?

The average family income of Pell Grant recipients at MIT for 2005-2006 was $23,500. Examples of the range of financial circumstances for students receiving Pell Grants in 2005-06 at MIT follow:

MIT students receiving the maximum Pell Grant of $4,050 have total annual income of less than $7,000 -- often from nontaxable sources such as Social Security benefits.

MIT students receiving the minimum Pell Grant of $400 could have a total annual income as high as $70,000, but would come from a family in which there was more than one child in college.

How has the funding level changed for Pell Grants over the years?

The maximum Pell Grant has remained static since 2003-04 at $4,050. Over time, it has lost its relative value as measured against the national average cost of college. In fact, based on the numbers on the website mentioned below, the inflation-adjusted true purchasing power of the Pell Grant is at a historically low level, which means it has lost its value as measured against the rising national average cost of college.

See listing of awards over time here:

Why do private colleges and universities like MIT cost so much?

As costs in general rise, so do the costs of educating students at any university, public or private. This is particularly true at an institution like MIT, which focuses on science, engineering and technology. MIT is known for its pragmatic, hands-on approach to solving real-world problems -- whether it's the invention of radar during World War II or current cancer research. The best facilities and resources possible are essential to the job of educating new generations of leaders in science and technology.

In fact, the true cost of educating undergraduates at any type of institution --public or private -- is relatively the same, but general subsidies (such as state, federal and local appropriations, as well as private philanthropy) make it possible for institutions to charge less than the actual costs of instruction. Because private institutions such as MIT do not receive state subsidies, which historically have been significant, the costs private institutions charge families is ordinarily greater than that at public institutions.

In many cases, even students who do not receive any financial aid still pay less than the actual cost of their education. At MIT, the published tuition covers about two-thirds of the instructional, technological and other related expenses that make up the true cost of educating a student. MIT uses existing capital funds, endowment, annual gifts and other sources to make up the difference.

While the "sticker price" for a university such as MIT may be $46,350 for 2006-2007, the majority of students do not pay the full amount, as they receive financial aid to help offset expenses. Since MIT is a need-blind institution that meets the full need of every student, cost should not present an obstacle to talented admitted students who wish to attend.

What is the published price of attending MIT next year?

In 2006-2007, tuition and fees will be $33,600 and it will cost an additional $12,750 for housing, meals, books, supplies and personal expenses, for a total of $46,350. Tuition, fees and room and board will cost $43,550.

How many undergraduates receive financial aid?

Approximately 92 percent of undergraduates receive need-based aid, merit-based aid, or both in the form of grants, loans and work. MIT offers no merit-based aid; its students receive merit-based aid from other sources.

How many undergraduates receive need-based financial aid?

More than 72 percent of undergraduates receive need-based financial aid, including scholarships, student loans and term-time jobs. Approximately 57 percent receive a need-based scholarship from MIT.

How much financial aid would a Pell Grant recipient attending MIT receive?

A typical financial aid package for a student eligible for the maximum Pell Grant and a need-based MIT scholarship would be $43,550. It would include $42,100 in scholarship -- consisting of an MIT scholarship of $34,000, a Federal Pell Grant of $4,050, and an MIT Pell Grant Match of $4,050 -- and a term-time job of $1,450. The student would work about five hours a week to earn $1,450.

How do students apply for financial aid?

Students apply for MIT financial aid by completing the College Board's PROFILE application and for federal financial aid by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition, the student's family must provide copies of its most recent federal income tax return. Students apply for financial aid annually.

Where can I get more information about applying for financial aid at MIT?
Telephone: 617-253-4971

Where can I get more information about being admitted to MIT?
Telephone: 617-253-4791

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