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Both the number of MIT students receiving Pell grants and the average amount awarded to MIT students increased for the 2006–2007 academic year. The number of recipients increased 3.5 percent and the average amount increased 5.5 percent from the previous year, Director of Financial Aid Daniel Barkowitz said.

A Pell grant is an entitlement grant that the federal government administers through the Federal Pell Grant Program. The total amount awarded depends on factors such as school cost and family income. It does not need to be repaid and can be used at any participating college or university.

Barkowitz said that $1,592,427 in the form of Pell grants was given to 575 eligible students for the 2006–2007 academic year as compared to $1,460,137 for 545 eligible students the previous year. For the 2006–2007 academic year, students received an average amount of $2,774.

Comparatively, students nationwide received an average of $2,494, according to FinAid.org. Also, fewer students received grants nationwide. For the 2006–2007 academic year, 5,165,000 students receiving grants with 5,468,000 students receiving grants in the previous year.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.J. Resolution 20, a bill which increases the maximum Pell grant award amount by $260 to $4,310 for the fiscal year 2007. The MIT program, initiated in 2006, matches the amount of federal Pell grant funds for eligible MIT students and effectively reduces the student contribution portion of a financial aid package.

“Students wind up working and paying less for MIT … and now it’s truly a dollar for dollar difference,” said Barkowitz. “In the past, [outside scholarships] wouldn’t have changed the amount that students had to borrow or pay. A nice little wrinkle in the Pell Matching Grants program now is that not only is the Pell grant amount matched, but outside funds are allowed to offset the amount that students have to borrow or work for.”

Outside scholarships include Massachusetts State grants (MASSGrant), MIT faculty or employee benefits, scholarships given through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and those given by outside organizations.

On a larger scale, 90 percent of all MIT undergraduates were offered financial aid in the form of grants, loans, and work from a total of $87.8 million for the 2006–2007 academic year, an 8.9 percent increase from two years before, according to Barkowitz.

The numbers for the upcoming 2007–2008 academic year have not yet been released, Barkowitz said. For more information regarding Pell grant historical figures nationwide, see http://www.finaid.org/educators/pellgrant.phtml.