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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Postsecondary Education

Sources of Financial Aid

Last Updated: May 2021
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At 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, the percentage of first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students who were awarded financial aid in academic year 2018–19 was higher at private nonprofit institutions (90 percent) and private for-profit institutions (88 percent) than at public institutions (84 percent).

Grants and loans are the major forms of federal financial aid for first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students. They are distinct forms of financial aid—loans typically have to be repaid whereas grants do not. The largest federal grant program available to undergraduate students is the Pell Grant program. A student must demonstrate financial need in order to qualify for a Federal Pell Grant. Some federal loan programs are available to all students and some are based on financial need. Other sources of financial aid include state and local governments, institutions, and private sources, as well as private loans. The forms of financial aid discussed in this indicator are only those provided directly to students. For example, student loans include only loans for which the student is the designated borrower; they do not include Direct PLUS Loans1 or other loans made directly to parents.

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Level of institution + Control of institution
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Figure 1. Percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students awarded financial aid at 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2010–11, 2014–15, and 2018–19
Figure 1. Percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students awarded financial aid at 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2010–11, 2014–15, and 2018–19

NOTE: Data represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Student financial aid includes any federal and private loans to students and federal, state/local, and institutional grants. Student loans include only loans made directly to students; they do not include Parent PLUS Loans or other loans made directly to parents. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2011–12, Winter 2015–16, and Winter 2019–20, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 331.20.

At 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions overall and across types of institutional control (i.e., public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit), the percentages of first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students who were awarded financial aid differed by less than 3 percentage points between academic years 2018–19 and 2010–11. Higher percentages of students were awarded aid in 2018–19 than in 2010–11 at institutions overall (86 vs. 85 percent), at public institutions (84 vs. 83 percent), and at private nonprofit institutions (90 vs. 89 percent).2 In contrast, a lower percentage of students in 2018–19 than in 2010–11 were awarded aid at private for-profit institutions (88 vs. 91 percent). [Time series ]
Figure 2. Percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students awarded financial aid at 2-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2010–11, 2014–15, and 2018–19
Figure 2. Percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students awarded financial aid at 2-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2010–11, 2014–15, and 2018–19

NOTE: Data represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Student financial aid includes any federal and private loans to students and federal, state/local, and institutional grants. Student loans include only loans made directly to students; they do not include Parent PLUS Loans or other loans made directly to parents. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2011–12, Winter 2015–16, and Winter 2019–20, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 331.20.

At 2-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions overall and across types of institutional control, the percentages of first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students who were awarded financial aid differed by less than 7 percentage points between academic years 2018–19 and 2010–11. Higher percentages of students were awarded aid in 2018–19 than in 2010–11 at institutions overall (79 vs. 77 percent), at public institutions (77 vs. 74 percent), and at private nonprofit institutions (96 vs. 90 percent). In contrast, a lower percentage of students in 2018–19 than in 2010–11 were awarded aid at private for-profit institutions (87 vs. 90 percent). [Time series ]
Figure 3. Percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students awarded financial aid at 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of financial aid and control of institution: Academic year 2018–19
Figure 3. Percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students awarded financial aid at 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of financial aid and control of institution: Academic year 2018–19

1 Student loans include only loans made directly to students; they do not include Parent PLUS Loans or other loans made directly to parents.

NOTE: Data represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Student financial aid includes any federal and private loans to students and federal, state/local, and institutional grants.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2019–20, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 331.20.

The percentage of first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students at 4-year institutions who were awarded specific types of financial aid varied by institutional control. In academic year 2018–19, the percentage of students awarded aid in the form of federal grants and student loans was highest at private for-profit institutions, the percentage of students awarded state or local grants was highest at public institutions, and the percentage of students awarded institutional grants was highest at private nonprofit institutions. Specifically, 65 percent of students at private for-profit institutions were awarded federal grants, which was higher than at public institutions (37 percent) and private nonprofit institutions (33 percent). The percentage of students awarded student loans was also higher at private for-profit institutions (70 percent) than at private nonprofit institutions (58 percent) and public institutions (44 percent). Meanwhile, the percentage of students awarded state or local grants was higher at public institutions (38 percent) than at private nonprofit institutions (25 percent) and private for-profit institutions (11 percent). The percentage of students awarded institutional grants was higher at private nonprofit institutions (83 percent) than at public institutions (51 percent) and private for-profit institutions (30 percent). [Other]
Figure 4. Percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students awarded financial aid at 2-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of financial aid and control of institution: Academic year 2018–19
Figure 4. Percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students awarded financial aid at 2-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of financial aid and control of institution: Academic year 2018–19

1 Student loans include only loans made directly to students; they do not include Parent PLUS Loans or other loans made directly to parents.

NOTE: Data represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Student financial aid includes any federal and private loans to students and federal, state/local, and institutional grants.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2019–20, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 331.20.

The percentage of first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students at 2-year institutions who were awarded specific types of financial aid also varied by institutional control. In academic year 2018–19, the percentage of students awarded federal grants was higher at private nonprofit institutions (81 percent) than at private for-profit institutions (70 percent) and public institutions (52 percent). The percentage of students at awarded state or local grants was more than seven times higher at public institutions (42 percent) than at private for-profit institutions (6 percent) and private nonprofit institutions (5 percent). The percentage of students awarded institutional grants was also higher at public institutions (17 percent) than at private nonprofit institutions (15 percent) and private for-profit institutions (12 percent). In contrast, the percentages of students awarded student loans were higher at private nonprofit institutions (88 percent) and private for-profit institutions (74 percent) than at public institutions (18 percent). [Other]
Figure 5. Average amount of financial aid awarded to first-time, full-time undergraduate students at 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of financial aid and control of institution: Academic year 2018–19
Figure 5. Average amount of financial aid awarded to first-time, full-time undergraduate students at 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of financial aid and control of institution: Academic year 2018–19

1 Student loans include only loans made directly to students; they do not include Parent PLUS Loans or other loans made directly to parents.

NOTE: Data represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Student financial aid includes any federal and private loans to students and federal, state/local, and institutional grants. Award amounts are in constant 2019–20 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Averages exclude students who were not awarded financial aid.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2019–20, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 331.20.

Across 4-year institutions, the average federal grant award in academic year 2018–19 ranged from $5,000 at private for-profit institutions to $5,400 at private nonprofit institutions (reported in constant 2019–20 dollars). The average state or local grant award ranged from $3,600 at private for-profit institutions to $4,600 at private nonprofit institutions. There were larger differences by institutional control in average institutional grant awards. The average institutional grant award at private nonprofit institutions ($22,300) was more than three times higher than at public institutions ($6,300) and private for-profit institutions ($5,900), which is reflective of a higher average total cost of attendance at private nonprofit institutions (see indicator Price of Attending an Undergraduate Institution). The average student loan amounts were higher at private nonprofit institutions ($8,500) and private for-profit institutions ($8,300) than at public institutions ($7,100). [Other]
Figure 6. Average amount of financial aid awarded to first-time, full-time undergraduate students at 2-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of financial aid and control of institution: Academic year 2018–19
Figure 6. Average amount of financial aid awarded to first-time, full-time undergraduate students at 2-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by type of financial aid and control of institution: Academic year 2018–19

1 Student loans include only loans made directly to students; they do not include Parent PLUS Loans or other loans made directly to parents.

NOTE: Data represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Student financial aid includes any federal and private loans to students and federal, state/local, and institutional grants. Award amounts are in constant 2019–20 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Averages exclude students who were not awarded financial aid.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2019–20, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 331.20.

Across 2-year institutions, the average federal grant award in academic year 2018–19 ranged from $4,600 at private for-profit institutions to $5,900 at private nonprofit institutions (reported in constant 2019–20 dollars). The average state or local grant awards were higher at private nonprofit institutions ($3,500) and private for-profit institutions ($3,200) than at public institutions ($2,300). There were larger differences by institutional control in institutional grant aid. The average institutional grant award was higher at private nonprofit institutions ($5,800) than at public ($2,100) and private for-profit institutions ($1,500). The average student loan amounts were higher at private for-profit institutions ($7,300) and private nonprofit institutions ($7,200) than at public institutions ($4,800). [Other]

1 Parent PLUS Loans are taken out by parents of dependent students and are used toward the students’ undergraduate education. Parent PLUS Loans were available through both the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program and the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) until FFELP was discontinued in 2010. Since then, Parent PLUS Loans have been referred to as Direct PLUS Loans.

2 Student financial aid includes any federal and private loans to students and federal, state/local, and institutional grants.

Supplemental Information

Suggested Citation

National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). Sources of Financial Aid. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cuc.