Student Aid: Most Undergrads Receive It, Study Says

Student Aid: Most Undergrads Receive It, Study Says
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    The likelihood that your son or daughter will receive student aid is great according to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) released last week by the Department of Education.


The latest study looked at college students enrolled between the summers of 2011 and 2012, finding that 71 percent of undergrads received aid.

Survey Sample

The NPSAS report surveyed approximately 95,000 undergraduate students at 1,500 postsecondary institutions across the United States as well as 16,000 grad students. That sample represents the 26 million undergraduate and 4 million graduate students enrolled through summer 2012.

Of the 71 percent that receive some type of financial aid, 59 percent received grants while 42 percent took out student loans. Grants are gifts, while student loans must be paid back.

Another 6 percent received aid through work-study jobs, 4 percent qualified and received veterans’ benefits and 5 percent had parents that took out federal Direct PLUS loans. Those parental loans are repaid by the borrowers, in this case the parents, not students.

Average Financial Aid

The financial aid average was $10,800 according to the study. Total grants came in at $6,200, student loans were $7,100 and work-study offered a $2,500 benefit. Veterans benefits averaged $7,500 while the parent loans were $12,100, representing the highest aid conferred.

The study found that 57 percent of all undergraduates received federal student aid, 15 percent garnered state aid and 20 percent obtained grants from the college or university that they were attending. Federal Pell Grants were dispensed to 41 percent of undergraduate students, while 40 percent took out federal student loans.

Income Level Variations

Aid of some sort of dispersed across all income levels. Dependent students, those described as age 24 or under, had a 92 percent federal assistance for the under $20,000 income level. But, even 47.1 percent of students with family incomes of $100,000 or more managed to obtain federal aid, chiefly in the form of student loans.

Eligibility for financial aid is typically tied in with attendance. Those college students attending full-time, for 12 or more credits per semester, are eligible for higher limits than those that attend part time. Moreover, students must be enrolled at least half time to qualify for federal loans and for the Pell grant.

Graduate Students

Grad school is expensive and the funding opportunities are much more limited as students further their education. Like their undergrad counterparts, 71 percent of grad students also received some type of federal aid. Typically, that aid came through assistantships (12 percent) and student loans (45 percent).

Grad student aid averaged $22,000, with assistantships averaging $14,600. Student loan debt was much higher, however, totaling $21,400.

Looking Ahead

The NPSAS report should offer encouragement to parents as they explore their aid options for their college-bound students. Most students qualify, therefore applying for assistance is crucial to help families manage their college expenses. Keep in mind that college scholarships can also help defray costs and, like grants, are funds that never have to be repaid.

Please visit our college scholarship section to search for opportunities.


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Categories: Finance