This tool aims to inform research and policy conversations on improving college access and success. Using data from the U.S. Department of Education, it examines college access and completion rates for Pell Grant recipients. Users can use three different displays to examine which colleges enroll and graduate the highest shares of Pell Grant (low-income) students.

First, the scatterplot feature allows users to explore the relationship between variables and provides insight into which colleges serve – and graduate – the greatest proportion of Pell students. Second, the report builder allows users to filter data and see the enrollment profile, median debt, spending levels, and types of colleges that correspond with any user-defined combination of Pell access and completion rates. Third, users can explore how Pell completion rates have changed over time, both for entire sectors of higher education and individual institutions. In each display, data summaries are automatically generated according to the user-defined selection criteria.

This tool was created in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Center on Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice under a grant from the Joyce Foundation. Jared Colston, doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, developed this tool and updates the data on a regular basis. Please address inquiries to Nick Hillman ( and Jerry Lucido (

Pell Access and Outcomes Explorer