Universal Mentors Association

Report: students relying on more financial aid


Federal financial aid continues to be a key source of funding for students going to college, though a lower percentage of students are taking out loans to foot the bill, according to federal data released today as part of a comprehensive national study of student borrowing.

The National Center for Education Statistics found in its National Postsecondary Student Aid Study that about 72 percent of undergraduates enrolled during the 2019–20 academic year received some type of financial aid, while 36 percent took student loans. The study is conducted every four years and includes undergraduate and graduate students.

“The data released today show the role that financial aid plays in financing undergraduates’ education,” NCES commissioner Peggy G. Carr said in a statement.

The student survey started before the COVID-19 pandemic, but NCES was able to include some questions about how students were affected by the pandemic. The findings from those survey questions were released in 2021.

Students received $14,100 in aid on average, up from the average aid received in 2015–16—$13,200 when adjusted for inflation. Students also received more in grants on average—$9,300—compared to 2015–16 but took less in student loans, according to the report.

On average, a student in the 2019–20 academic year took out $7,900 in student loans. In 2016–15, a student took out $8,200 in loans on average, when adjusted for inflation.

Fifty-five percent of undergraduates in 2019–20 received federal aid—40 percent of whom received the Pell Grant—while 23 percent received state aid. The percentage of students getting institutional aid ticked up slightly from 25 percent in 2015–16 to 28 percent in the most recent study.

Meanwhile, the percentage of students using a federal Direct Loan to pay for college dropped from 36 percent in 2015–16 to 34 percent.


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