NCES: 20 Percent of Undergrads Didn’t Apply for Aid in Recent Years

Quick Takeaways:

  • While 70 percent of undergraduate students applied for federal financial aid to pay for college in 2011-12, 20 percent did not apply for any aid and only 10 percent applied only for nonfederal aid.
  • The two most cited reasons for not applying for financial aid across institution types were that students thought they could afford college without aid and that they thought they were ineligible for aid.
  • Undergraduates at public four-year institutions more frequently cited being concerned about taking on debt as a reason for not applying for aid than students at other institutions.

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff

Twenty percent of undergraduate students in 2011-12 did not apply for any financial aid to help pay for college, including 30 percent of students who attended community colleges, according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The data, which came from the 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:12), showed that while 70 percent of undergraduate students applied for federal financial aid to pay for college, 20 percent did not apply for any aid and only 10 percent applied only for nonfederal aid, such as private loans and aid received from states or institutions.

The data was also broken down by institution type, as follows:

  • Community colleges: 61 percent applied for federal aid, 10 percent only applied for nonfederal aid, and 30 percent did not apply for any aid.
  • Public four-year institutions: 71 percent applied for federal aid, 10 percent only applied for nonfederal aid, and 18 percent did not apply for any aid.
  • Private four-year institutions: 76 percent applied for federal aid, 14 percent only applied for nonfederal aid, and 11 percent did not apply for any aid.
  • For-profit institutions: 87 percent applied for federal aid, 8 percent only applied for nonfederal aid, and 5 percent did not apply for any aid.

According to NCES, the two most cited reasons for not applying for financial aid across institution types were that students thought they could afford college without aid (43 percent) and that they thought they were ineligible for aid (44 percent). Other reasons that were cited include:

  • Not wanting debt (33 percent);
  • Not having information on how to apply for aid (13 percent); and 
  • That the forms were “too much work” to complete (9 percent).

Undergraduates at public four-year institutions more frequently cited being concerned about taking on debt as a reason for not applying for aid than students at other institutions (37 percent versus between 21 percent and 33 percent). Community college students were more likely to report not having information on how to apply for aid (15 percent) and not needing aid (39 percent) than students at other types of institutions.

 

Publication Date: 8/4/2016


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