NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Aid Tapped by More -- and Wealthier -- College Students

August 27, 2013

The share of undergraduates who used federal student aid to help pay for college jumped to 57 percent in 2011-2012 from 47 percent in 2007-2008, according to a recent report released by the Education Department. The increase in federal loans, grants and work-study jobs coincides with the wider trend of climbing tuition costs and underscores the expanding use of federal aid for higher education across all income levels, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • The average federal aid amounts for undergraduates came to about $8,200 per recipient in 2011-2012.
  • Average in-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges rose to about $7,700 in 2011-2012 from about $5,900 in 2007-2008 in current dollars, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department.
  • While the federal government offered more help to students, the amount of state aid decreased over the four-year period for undergraduate students to 15 percent from 16 percent, an indicator of tightening state budgets, according to the center.
  • In total, about seven in 10 undergraduates received some type of federal, state or institutional aid, such as work-study jobs and veterans' benefits, in 2011-2012, representing a new peak.

The report highlighted an increasing dependence on federal assistance for college across all socioeconomic groups. For instance, the number of full-time students who received Pell grants in families with incomes between $60,000 to $80,000 shot up to 18 percent in 2011-2012 from 2 percent in 2007-2008.

Source: Caroline Porter, "Federal Aid Tapped by 57 Percent of College Students," Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2013.


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