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State Spending on Student Aid Up 6%
States awarded $7.3 billion in student financial assistance in 2003-4, up 6 percent from the previous year, according to a new survey from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs.
Need-based grants received $4.5 billion in 2003-4, up 7.6 percent in a year. That increase, while only a little higher than the total increase, will likely encourage experts on student aid who have complained in recent years that legislators were putting too much emphasis on merit scholarships of various types, and not enough on grants for students from low-income families.
Some of the states with the largest percentage increases in need-based financial aid include California (up 20 percent), Kentucky (up 32 percent), North Carolina (up 31 percent), Oregon (up 25 percent), Rhode Island (up 95 percent), and Virginia (up 79 percent). New York, which for many years has been the top state in providing student aid, increased appropriations for need-based aid by 16 percent, to $859 million.
New York and six other states -- California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas -- collectively awarded $2.7 billion for undergraduate need-based aid, accounting for nearly two-thirds of such aid.
Just over half of state student aid goes to those enrolled at a public colleges in their home state. But state aid is also very important to private colleges, many of whom benefit from state scholarships for private college students who are enrolled in their home state. Just under a third of state aid goes to such students, and for many private colleges, this is the most significant support they receive from their states.
As in past years, the lion's share of student financial assistance is in the form of grants, but the survey also includes non-grant aid such as loans, tuition waivers and work-study programs. Grants are much more dominant at the undergraduate level (where need-based and non-need-based grants make up 91 percent of all aid) than at the graduate level (where they make up only 29 percent). State aid to graduate students is more likely to come in the form of tuition waivers and loans.
The following table shows total state spending on financial assistance, as well as state spending on need-based grants.
State Support for Student Aid, 2003-4
|State||All Financial Aid||Need-Based Grants||1-Year Increase in Need-Based Grants|
Source: National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs
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