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Less College Aid for Students in Territory than in States

Puerto Rico has “the sixth highest rate of college enrollment in the world,” according to a claim of the ‘commonwealth’ party administration of the territorial government.  The claim would only be true, however, if Puerto Rico were a nation. It is, in fact, a territory of the United States.

The U.S. college enrollment rate in 2009 was just over 70%. In Puerto Rico, 56% of high school graduates went on to college.

Among the reasons for Puerto Rico having fewer people getting a college education is that it is a territory even though its insular government is named the “Commonwealth.” Because it is a territory, its residents are eligible for less Federal assistance for post-secondary education than residents of the States even though individuals born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.

Puerto Ricans would be eligible for greater Federal Pell Grants, American Opportunity Tax Credit payments, and Student Loans if it becomes a State.

Puerto Rico’s lesser Federal assistance for students is reflected in its college educated population: 22% of  residents are college graduates, lower than the national average of 27.5%, although higher than in some States.


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