More Need, More Aid

63% of undergraduates in 2003-4 received financial assistance, and proportion that got loans grew, U.S. study finds.
June 27, 2005

As tuitions rise, more students are receiving financial aid, and they're getting more of it.

A study released Friday by the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics shows that 63 percent of undergraduate students in 2003-4 received some form of financial aid, either from the federal government, their states, or their colleges. The average amount received by those students was $7,400. A comparable study of undergraduates in 1999-2000 found that 55.4 percent of them received some form of aid, and that the average amount they received was $6,265.

A little over half of the 2003-4 undergraduates received grants, and those who received them got an average of $4,000. A smaller proportion of students -- 35.1 percent -- received loans, but the amount they had to borrow on average, $5,800, significantly exceeded the amount received by those who got grants. In 1999-2000, 44.4 percent of students received grants, and 28.8 percent took out loans.

Students at private nonprofit and for-profit institutions were far likelier than their peers to receive financial aid, and to need more of it.

Eighty-three percent of students at private four-year institutions received some form of financial aid, and they got an average of $13,500, more than any other group. But students at four-year private institutions also in general received more in the form of grants ($7,900) than in the form of loans ($7,000).

Undergraduates at for-profit institutions were even likelier to receive aid -- 89.2 percent of them got some form of financial assistance -- though they received somewhat less, averaging $8,900. But in contrast to students at other institutions, undergraduates at for-profit institutions were more likely to receive loans than grants: 65.3 percent of them received grants, while 74.5 percent received loans.

Students at public community colleges, which on average are significantly less expensive to attend than other institutions, were less likely to receive financial aid than their peers -- about 40 percent received grants and 12.1 percent received loans.

The report contains significantly more detailed information, including breakdowns of types of aid students received and differences in the financial aid received by full-time and all students at the various types of institutions.

Undergraduates receiving financial aid, 2003-4

Type of college     Avg.       tuition and fees Avg. cost of attending   % with aid Avg. amount   % with grants Avg. amount   % with loans Avg. amount
Public 4-year $4,300 $12,300   68.5 $7,600   51.5 $4,000   44.8 $5,600
Private 4-year $14,200 $22,600   83.2 $13,500   73.1 $7,900   57.4 $7,000
Public 2-year $1,000 $6,100   46.8 $3,200   39.8 $2,200   12.1 $3,600
Private for-profit $7,600 $15,000   89.2 $8,900   65.3 $3,300   74.5 $6,800
All institutions $4,500 $11,300   63.0 $7,400   50.4 $4,000   35.1 $5,800

                                                                                       National Center for Education Statistics

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