Skip Navigation

Seventy percent of all undergraduates received some type of financial aid in 2017–18
September 16, 2021

Most Undergrads Relied on Federal Aid

WASHINGTON (September 16, 2021)—Seventy percent of all undergraduates received some type of financial aid (excluding private loans) to help pay for their postsecondary education in 2017-18, according to the most recent data on student financial aid released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Nearly 60 percent overall relied on some form of Federal aid, with 44 percent using Pell Grants and 39 percent borrowing an average of $6,600 from federal student loans programs. The data do not include loans from private lenders.

Figure 1: Percentage of undergraduates receiving selected types of financial aid, by institution state: 2017–18

Percentage of undergraduates receiving selected types of financial aid, by institution state: 2017–18


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC).


”This report shows that financial aid is essential to making college affordable for a large group of students and underscores the value of federal financial aid,“ said Peggy G. Carr, NCES commissioner. ”While nearly 60 percent of undergrads relied on federal aid, only 25 percent received state or institutional aid.“

Across the states with samples that support reporting, the portion of students receiving financial aid ranged from a low of 52 percent of undergraduates in Hawaii to a high of 87 percent in North Carolina.

The findings are contained in a new NCES report, 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC): First Look at Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2017–18. NPSAS:18-AC is the first administrative data only NPSAS data collection designed to yield national financial aid estimates every 2 years and at the state level.

For graduate students, the picture was different. Almost 60 percent of graduate students received some form of aid; 41 percent took out loans, while only 26 percent received grants.

The report describes the percentages of students receiving various types of financial aid and average amounts received, by type of institution attended and institution state (for undergraduate students), and by type of institution, attendance pattern, graduate program, and income level (for graduate students).

Figure 2: Average amounts of selected types of financial aid received by undergraduates who received that type of aid, by institution state: 2017–18

Average amounts of selected types of financial aid received by undergraduates who received that type of aid, by institution state: 2017–18


SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017–18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS:18-AC).


Some key findings from this report include:

The data set will be released in November and will allow users to generate national and state level estimates overall and by various student characteristics, such as gender, race/ethnicity, and income. Users can make comparisons between states, for different types of institutions, and different demographic groups.

NCES recently released some preliminary data on the 2019-2020 school year, which showed fully 87 percent of students experienced some kind of disruption, whether it was classes moving online, having to withdraw, or seeking additional aid.

NPSAS data collections have been conducted periodically by NCES since 1987. NPSAS:18-AC is a unique study within the NPSAS series because it is based solely on data collected from administrative data sources, unlike other NPSAS studies, which also include student survey data. Administrative data from the U.S. Department of Education’s data systems, institution student records, and other national administrative data sources were compiled to yield state representative data for most states, another unique aspect of NPSAS:18-AC. However, it also results in differences in the way some statistics are calculated, which makes some of the data incomparable to NPSAS data collections with a student interview. For instance, there is no student-reported information on private loans. Representative estimates are included for these 30 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

To see the state-by-state data and view the full report, please visit https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2021476.

A summary of preliminary data from the 2019-2020 school year can be found here: https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2021/2021456_Summary.pdf

NPSAS:18-AC data will be available in November 2021 for analysis to the public using PowerStats in DataLab (https://nces.ed.gov/datalab/index.aspx) and as a restricted-use data file for those who obtain a license for use (https://nces.ed.gov/statprog/instruct.asp).

###

The National Center for Education Statistics, a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, is the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education and the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study is a comprehensive study that examines how students and their families pay for postsecondary education. It includes nationally representative samples of undergraduates and graduate students; students attending public and private less-than-2-year institutions, community colleges, 4-year colleges, and major universities. Students who receive financial aid as well as those who do not receive financial aid participate in NPSAS.

Contact: Josue DeLaRosa, NCES, ARIS.NCES@ed.gov, (202) 705-6692