Grant Aid Has Increased – But So Has the Average Net Price of College

By Allie Bidwell, Communications Staff

Undergraduate students are borrowing slightly less and receiving more grant aid than those in school during the height of the Great Recession, according to an annual federal report detailing demographic and financial trends in education.

The most recently published “Conditions of Education” report found that the percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students who were awarded loans as part of their financial aid packages in 2015-15 was 47 percent – 4 percentage points less than in 2009-10, across all institution types. Undergraduate students also appear to be taking out smaller loans. The average amount in 2014-15 was $7,000 – 10 percent lower than in 2009-10, the report said.

Broken down by institution type, public four-year institutions saw a 1 percent increase in the average loan amount, and private nonprofit two-year institutions saw a 3 percent increase. All other sector and institution types saw a decrease.

But the decrease in borrowing also came as the average tuition and fees for undergraduates increased. Between 2009-10 and 2014-15, the average tuition and fees across all degree-granting institutions increased by 15 percent, from $10,000 to $11,600.

And although more students in 2014-15 received financial aid than in 2009-10 (86 percent vs. 85 percent), students on average are generally still paying more for college.

The average net price of attendance (total cost minus grant and scholarship aid) slightly increased between 2013-14 and 2014-15, from $12,750 to $13,200 at public four-year institutions; $24,690 to $25,400 at private nonprofit institutions; and $21,000 to $21,500 at private for-profit institutions.

Students at four-year institutions on average received between $4,700 and $4,858 in federal grant aid, and between $3,284 and $3,868 in state or local grant aid, depending on the sector. Institutional grant aid also varied widely, from an average of $4,165 at private for-profit institutions, to an average of $5,686 at public institutions and $17,965 at private nonprofit institutions. While the average federal grant amount for students at public four-year institutions has decreased since 2009-10, the average state or local and institutional grant amount has increased. At private nonprofit institutions, the average federal grant amount has also decreased, while state or local grant aid has stayed about the same, and institutional grant aid increased.

The entire report also contains information on undergraduate enrollment, institution expenses, characteristics of undergraduate students, and the transition from high school to college.


Publication Date: 5/31/2017

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