More than 18000 Portland Community College students got federal education …

More than 18,300 students at Portland Community College were awarded need-based federal Pell grants to help fund their education during 2011-12, making PCC No. 30 in the nation for the most Pell recipients.

Those figures, from the U.S. Department of Education, (Excel spreadsheet) are the most recent available.

PCC ranks high nationally for Pell grant awards primarily because it is such a large college, with more than 90,000 full- and part-time students. It has big campuses in North Portland, north of Beaverton, in Southwest Portland and in Southeast Portland.

It also serves a hefty share of students from low-income households, the intended target of Pell grants. More than one-third of students taking for-credit courses at PCC receive Pell grants, according to Elizabeth Cox-Brand, research and communication director for Oregon’s community college system.

Neither Portland Community College nor any of the other Top 30 Pell colleges comes close to the top-ranked school: The University of Phoenix had 945,000 students qualify for Pell grants in 2011-12. That for-profit university, which offers many of its courses online, also has more than 100 physical campuses, including in Oregon.

Other colleges in Oregon where a lot of students are pay for their education using Pell grants include Portland State University (10,600), Lane Community College (10,400) and Chemeketa Community College (8,000), federal figures for 2011-12 show.

— Betsy Hammond

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