According to the American Association of Community Colleges, the Pell Grant program, which provides federal money to allow low-income Americans to attend college, provided a little less money this year:

The Pell Grant program data indicate a slight decrease in total program costs halfway through the 2012-2013 award year compared to the same point in time for the past two years: $16.6 billion in 2012-2013 compared to $16.7 billion in 2011-2012 and $17.0 billion in 2010-2011.

The decline appears to be closely related to a decline in enrollment of Pell grant recipients at various colleges, particularly the type most likely to enroll low-income students. As the AACC explains:

Community colleges fall enrollments were down 3.1 percent while Pell recipients were down 7.2 percent.

Public 4-year fall enrollments were down by 0.6 percent while Pell recipients were flat(0.0 percent).

For-profit (4-year) fall enrollments were down 7.2 percent while Pell recipients were down 7.9 percent.

Part of this may be due to the fact that, while the latest federal budget preserved the maximum Pell Grant available to students, actual tuition at all of these types of institutions increased, which means Pell Grant students would also have to pay more out pocket to attend college.

Perhaps many of them decided they just couldn’t afford it.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer