State Student Grant Aid

The Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) was established to incentivize states to supplement the federal Pell Grant Program with additional need-based grant aid to low-income students. Unfortunately, LEAP has received no new funding since 2011. State actions since then demonstrate how important it is to maintain LEAP and restore program funding.

Since 2011, four states have shut down their need-based grant programs, and others are actively considering doing the same. The savings to the federal government in defunding LEAP was only $67 million annually, but the loss of grant aid to needy students is immeasurably higher as states have disinvested from these aid programs.

Now, Congress is considering repealing the LEAP authorizing statute – a step that would be penny-wise and pound-foolish.


The Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) is a federal-state initiative for need-based grant aid. To participate, states must match federal funding at least dollar-for-dollar, and demonstrate a “maintenance-of-effort” for need-based student aid equal to their average funding over the prior three years. The program serves students at both public and private institutions. Unfortunately, the program has not been funded since 2011.


Originally known as the State Student Incentive Grant (SSIG), LEAP was created in 1972, as a complement to the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant (BEOG) and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). (The BEOG later became known as the Pell Grant.)

These three programs form an important partnership in helping low-income students pay for college: the federal government through Pell; state governments through LEAP; and institutions through SEOG.

LEAP was intended to provide incentive funds to encourage states to set up and maintain need-based grant aid programs for their students, rather than providing only merit-based aid.

The program became a target for elimination for budget cutting purposes in the early 1990s, but its funding survived until 2011.

In the News

What You Can Do

  • Contact your elected officials to emphasize the importance of maintaining an incentive program to encourage states to continue to support need-based grant aid for the students at your institution.
  • Work with your state independent college association to show how state need-based aid helps make college possible for Pell Grant students.


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