NCES Presents Key Indicators On The Condition of Education, 2015

Quick Takeaways:

  • Grant and loan aid to undergraduate students increased at both 4- and 2-year institutions from 2011-12 to 2012-13.
  • The average student loan amount increased by $100 from 2011-12 to 2012-13 (in constant 2013-14 dollars).

By Charlotte Etier, Research Analyst

Last week the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released The Condition of Education, 2015 which presents 42 key indicators on important topics and trends in U.S. education. Among other data, the report compared average net price; percentages of first-time, full-time (FTFT) students receiving any financial aid; and postsecondary enrollment and completion statistics. 

According to the report, grant and loan aid to undergraduate students changed from academic years 2007–08 to 2012–13, with the percentage of FTFT degree- and certificate-seeking undergraduate students who received any financial aid increasing in every sector:

  • 4-year degree-granting institutions increased from 80 to 85 percent, with 4-year private for-profit institutions seeing the largest increase, with a jump from 76 percent to 89 percent.
  • 2-year institutions increased from 68 percent 78 percent, with 2-year public institutions increasing the most from 62 to 76 percent.

Student loan volume also changed, according to the report’s findings. Between 2000–01 and 2012–13, the percentage of students receiving loan aid increased by nine percentage points and at all institutional types. Average annual student loan amounts for FTFT degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students receiving loan aid also increased during this period, from $5,100 to $7,000, after adjusting for inflation (a 39 percent increase). 

This report complements the College Board’s most recent Trends in Student Aid report which was released in fall 2014. Trends, 2014 indicated students and parents borrowed $8.7 billion less in education loans (in 2013 dollars) in 2013-14 than the previous school year--but that institutions were continuing to award the majority of the own grant aid to students with demonstrated financial need. NASFAA president Justin Draeger said “decreased student loan borrowing, coupled with stable institutional funding for need-based aid, signal a return to normalcy in higher education finance.” While The Condition for Education, 2015 shows an increase in borrowing over 12 years, Trends, 2014 examines a far shorter period and is able to identify the beginning of a decline.

NCES’s new report also examined average net price in 2012-13 (in constant 2013-14 dollars) and found for FTFT students it was just under $13,000 at public in-state four-year institutions, just over $24,000 at private nonprofit four-year institutions, and just under $22,000 at private for-profit four-year institutions. The lowest average total cost for attending degree-grant institutions for FTFT students during the 2013-14 academic year was public, in-state two-year institutions living off campus with family at $8,500. 

Other areas included in The Condition of Education, 2015 include:

Characteristics of Postsecondary Students and Degree-Grant Institutions in 2013-14:

  • There were 4,294 degree-granting institutions with first-year undergraduates, including 2,634 4-year institutions offering programs at the bachelor’s or higher degree level and 1,660 2-year institutions offering associate’s degrees. 
  • Approximately 29 percent of 4-year institutions with first-year undergraduates had open admissions policies and, some 90 percent of 2-year institutions had open admissions.
  • At 4-year institutions in fall 2013, some 77 percent of undergraduate students attended full time, compared with 41 percent at 2-year institutions. 

Programs and Choices in 2012-13:

  • Over 1 million associate’s degrees and some 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees were awarded by Title IV postsecondary institutions, a decrease of 1 percent and an increase of 3 percent, respectively, from 2011-12.  
  • Between 2002–03 and 2012–13 the number of master’s degrees awarded increased by 45 percent, and the number of doctor’s degrees awarded increased by 44 percent.

New to the report this year was differences in postsecondary degree completion by socioeconomic status, which showed a smaller percentage of students of low socioeconomic status (SES) than students of middle SES attained a bachelor’s or higher degree within eight years of high school completion (14 vs. 29 percent), and percentages for both groups were smaller than the percentage of high-SES students who attained this level of education (60 percent).


Publication Date: 6/1/2015

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