Student Financial Aid:

Most Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants Are Awarded to Needy Students

HRD-92-47: Published: Jan 31, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG), focusing on: (1) whether educational institutions awarded SEOG to Pell Grant recipients with the lowest expected family contributions (EFC) first and non-Pell Grant recipients with the lowest EFC second; and (2) the Department of Education's data on SEOG distributions to institutions and their students.

GAO found that: (1) most SEOG dollars went to intended recipients, but some institutions awarded a small portion of SEOG funds inconsistently with federal requirements; (2) the law requires that SEOG funds be distributed to institutions based on previous years' expenditures; (3) since the remaining SEOG funds are distributed among institutions on the basis of relative financial need, the amount of SEOG a student may receive depends largely on which institution the student attends; and (4) the major reasons that institutions awarded SEOG to non-Pell Grant recipients included helping students cover out-of-state tuition, students whose families suffered catastrophic income loss after Education selected Pell Grant awardees, and students who were ineligible for a Pell Grant because of administrative errors.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, P.L. 102-325, did not adopt the recommendation. It is unlikely that any action will be taken on the recommendation in the forseeable future.

    Matter: If Congress wishes to more equitably distribute SEOG funds among Pell Grant recipients, it may wish to consider amending the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require that the Department of Education allocate SEOG funds to institutions proportionately based on the dollar amount of Pell Grants their students receive.


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