Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants

The Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program is an important means to help low-income students finance their higher education. It is also an important partnership program, as SEOG requires institutions to supplement federal money with institutional funds to participate in the program.

The program should be expanded to become more inclusive, and to help lower student debt burdens by increasing the maximum grant for the third year and beyond from $4,000 to $7,000.


The Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program provides financial assistance to low-income undergraduate students of exceptional need attending postsecondary education institutions. Authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act, SEOG is one of the “campus-based aid programs,” meaning it is administered by each participating postsecondary education institution. Currently institutions must match at least 33% of the funds appropriated by the federal government.



SEOG has been an integral part of the federal student aid portfolio since its inclusion in the Higher Education Act in 1972. SEOG was designed as a partner to the original Pell program (then known as the Basic Education Opportunity Grant or BEOG), to ensure supplemental grant aid for Pell students, and to ensure that institutions engaged with the federal government in providing need-based aid to low-income students.

Funding Status

An estimated 1.6 million students received an SEOG grant in the 2013-14 academic year. Students can receive a maximum grant of $4,000 per academic year under the current rules, although the average grant in the 2013-14 academic year was approximately $450. The program received $733 million in federal contributions for the 2013-14 academic year. Private, nonprofit colleges received 33% of the total federal SEOG allocation in 2013-14.

Although the SEOG program was always meant to be a supplement to the Pell Grant program, the purchasing power of the grant has diminished from $2,186 per recipient in 1976-77 to just $450 in 2013-14.

"One Grant, One Loan” and SEOG
One of the more popular policy proposals being discussed on Capitol Hill the past few years has been the idea of moving to a federal financial aid portfolio consisting of “one grant, one loan.” Assuming that the lone surviving federal grant program would be the Pell Grant—which currently receives more than 95% of all federal higher education grant funding—such a policy would mean the de facto termination of the SEOG program.

In the News

What You Can Do

In conversations with your Senators, Representatives, and their staffs:
  • Stress the positive impact that SEOG has on college access and persistence for low-income students on your campus.
  • Highlight the campus-based nature of SEOG. Many Members of Congress are not aware of the differences between campus-based and non-campus-based programs. Such an explanation could offer important support for efforts to preserve and expand the other campus-based programs (Perkins Loans and Federal Work Study).
  • Thank them for their past support and advocate for sustained funding.

NAICU Contact

Tim Powers: