A Tool Made Specifically for Students. 

While user testing College Abacus, we noticed that low-income students often struggled to answer the financial questions required by most schools’ net price calculators to get financial aid estimates. But for many of these same students, getting their parents involved to answer the detailed financial questions was not possible. That's why we created Pell Abacus.

Pell Abacus addresses the following barriers to understanding financial aid:

  • Whether it's due to busy work schedules or discomfort sharing sensitive financial information with their children, it's common for students to expect little or no help from their parents during the college application process.

  • The financial questions—and finance jargon—used by net price calculators can be confusing.

  • Answering questions like, "How much money is in your trust fund?” can make students feel out of place and demoralized.

  • Parents’ tax forms and other financial documents may not be readily available for students.

  • Getting individualized time with a college counselor may be difficult at schools with large populations of low-income students.

Pell Abacus is a website designed to meet the needs of students who are eligible for Federal Pell Grants. We simplified the language, shortened the questionnaire, and eliminated income-based questions. We have also provided federal College Scorecard data unique to those students eligible for Federal Pell Grants.


Where did all the income questions go?

Don't worry our researcher answered them.

We created income and asset estimates based on a comprehensive examination of federal and academic data, including income guidelines for Free and Reduced Price Meals. Unlike other financial aid tools aimed at low-income students, we tailor our estimates based on personal factors, like the number of people in a student's household, the marital status of the student’s parents and more. The result is a net price estimate that is more representative of the student than what they might find elsewhere—without answering any financial questions.


Like College Abacus, Pell Abacus has also been translated into Spanish. With Pell Ábacowe can better support low-income and Federal Pell Grant-eligible students. Read More >



Click here to watch Secretary of Education John King, at The New York Times Higher Ed Leaders Forum Panel, talk about the impact of students using Pell Abacus.