More Than 70 Percent of Undergraduates Get Financial Aid

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A new report shows that 71 percent of all undergraduate students got some kind of financial aid in the 2011-2012 school year. Four years earlier, it was 66 percent. That includes all sources of aid, with the exception of private help from family and friends.

Here are some other findings from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics:

  • Federal student loan usage likewise jumped 5 percentage points over that period — to 40 percent.
  • There was an even bigger jump in federal grants — from 28 percent to 40 percent.
  • States and schools don’t seem to be stepping up aid. Just 15 percent of undergraduates received state grants and 20 percent received a grant from the college or university they attend, and those figures are little changed from 2007-2008.
  • Among full-time, dependent students, state grants declined, from 29 percent to 26 percent.
  • The average total grant amount for grant recipients in the 2011-2012 school year was $6,200, and borrowers took out an average of $7,100 in student loans.

Meanwhile, costs are still increasing. “In-state tuition at community college jumped almost 6 percent, to an average of $3,131 last year; in-state tuition at a public, four-year college averaged $8,655, up 5 percent,” The Associated Press says.

While more college students are receiving federal financial aid, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said it’s not enough to deal with the rising cost of college.

“All of us share responsibility for ensuring that college is affordable,” Duncan told AP. “Increasing federal student aid alone will not control the cost of college.”

If you’re racking your brain for ideas to help pay for college, check out our video below on creative college financing.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Vinay Dean Cardwell

    Funny how the media never reports this stuff. But then again it is much easier to just take out a student loan and pay it back later. Students aren’t looking at the opportunity cost of spending a few more hours or days looking through scholarship opportunities than just applying for loans. Barriers of entry for loans is easier than scholarships.

  • Bill

    Don’t let your kids talk you out of your retirement funds (and let them set themselves up for enormous amounts of personal debt), just to attend a big name private school. Certainly, compare and contrast school costs, based on the offered aid. The more expensive private college may offer sufficient financial aid to make them the best choice. If that does not happen, try a community college (one needs to get a B average or better so that a transfer to a good 4 year college will happen, C students do not typically get accepted into good 4 year universities) for 2 years, followed by a good 4 year public college/university. A big name school does not really pay off for that first degree (for the bachelors, there is no evidence, in terms of a greater salary, that it is worth the expense), but it can pay off well for a masters, doctorate or professional degree (MD, law, etc.). In addition, admission to graduate programs is based primarily on GPA. Attending a less competitive college and getting a 3.8, will open more doors, than a 3.2 GPA at a very competitive university.