Pell Institute

The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, the research arm of the Council for Opportunity in Education, conducts and disseminates research and policy analysis to encourage policymakers, educators, and the public to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for students from low-income backgrounds, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities.


The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education seeks a highly motivated and detail-oriented Research Associate to join our team.

This position requires the ability to design and implement research projects from conceptualization to final deliverables. The candidate needs to have in-depth knowledge of education theory and research methodology, particularly as it pertains to pre-college and college access, strong communication skills, and a commitment to and affinity for delivering high-level research. The ideal candidate will have experience with federal TRIO programs as a researcher, a TRIO alum, or working with TRIO students.

Ready to apply? Submit your application material by email to [email protected] using “Pell Research Associate – [Your Full Name]” as the subject of your email. No phone calls please.

Additional Information

Specific Responsibilities: • Support ongoing research projects within the Pell Institute • Lead pre-college and college access research (from design to deliverable) both independently and collaboratively. Assist in the design, implementation, and analysis of grant-funded research projects • Build capacity within pre-college TRIO programs (e.g., Upward Bound and Talent Search) • Seek grant opportunities and support the preparation of grant applications with the Vice President of Research / Director of the Pell Institute • Influence national conversations about pre-college and college access issues • Research new data sources and analytical tools to position Pell as a leading resource for pre-college and college access discussions for historically marginalized students. • Write and contribute to reports, blogs, policy briefs, and peer-reviewed publications. • Present research to diverse audiences, including TRIO professionals, policymakers, state leaders, and other research communities.

Position Requirements: • Ph.D. or EdD in a related field • Passion for the mission of the Pell Institute and a commitment to promoting opportunity and equity in higher education • At least five years of experience in research related to low-income, first-generation, underrepresented students or students with disabilities • Demonstrate strong proficiency with quantitative or qualitative research methods (mixed methods expertise preferred) • Hands-on practitioner experience or collaboration with practitioners in the field of college access • Strong communication skills, both written and spoken • Ability to work independently and as part of a team, manage multiple projects and priorities, and meet deadlines • Grant writing experience • Ability to travel as needed

Submit your application material by email to: [email protected] using “Pell Research Associate – [Your Full Name]” as the subject of your email. This position is in Washington, D.C., and is not remote. The application materials should include the following: Cover letter with qualifications, interest, and availability; Current CV; Three references with current contact information; and Links to example(s) of applicable written materials.

Stay Connected

The Pell Institute is the first research institute to specifically examine the issues affecting educational opportunity for low-income, first-generation, and disabled college students. Learn more about the Pell Institute, including our mission, purpose, goals, and history.



Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States: 2022 Historical Trend Report

This 2022 edition is the 8th in the current series, begun in 2015. This publication brings together again in partnership the Pell Institute with the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy of the University of Pennsylvania (PennAHEAD). Both organizations have a core mission to promote a more open, equitable, and democratic system of higher education. The Pell Institute, with its historical and ongoing ties to the federal TRIO programs, has a special mission to promote more opportunity for low-income and first-generation students, and students with disabilities.

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The purposes of this equity indicators project are to: 1) Report the status of higher education equity in the United States and identify changes over time in measures of equity; 2) Identify policies and practices that promote and hinder progress; and 3) Illustrate the need for increased support of policies, programs, and practices that not only improve overall attainment in higher education but also create greater equity in higher education opportunity and outcomes.

The 2018 Indicators report added data describing higher education equity by U.S. state. The 2019 to 2022 Indicators reports continue and expand the inclusion of state data. Considering indicators of equity by state is essential given the many differences across the 50 states in historical, demographic, economic, and political characteristics, as well as the characteristics of their K-12 and higher education systems.

Indicators reports 2015 to 2019 presented a number of indicators for all students and for dependent students. In the 2020 and 2022 Indicators report, we added disaggregation by dependency status (dependent, independent without dependents, and independent with dependents) where data are available.

The 2021 and 2022 Indicators reports also include historical data on the Federal TRIO programs. Data are presented for each of the programs on numbers served, percent of eligible students served, funding levels, and characteristics of students served. Data presented also include the results of the most recent evaluations on college entrance and completion.

In addition to providing longitudinal indicators of equity, the Indicators project is also intended to advance conversations about effective policies and practices for improving equity in higher education opportunities and outcomes. To this end, the Indicators reports periodically include essays intended to connect the indicators to current policy debates. Reflecting the UNESCO Right to Higher Education (RTHE) theme, the 2022 Indicators report includes a brief essay entitled: The Right to Higher Education: Key Challenges in the U.S. Context and Suggested Principles in a Global Context. In 2018, the Indicators project launched the Improving Equity in Higher Education Search for Solutions Blog hosted by PennAHEAD to further advance the discussion of creating meaningful improvements in higher education equity.

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