Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education published key financial aid data.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education released new federal data about financial aid information. The National Center for Education Statistics releases this information every four years to provide a glimpse into how students are paying for their education.
After looking at around 100,000 undergraduate and graduate students, the data revealed that that the number of borrowers receiving some sort of financial assistance increased over the four-year period. While 71 percent of students received financial aid during the 2011-2012 school year, this figure rose to 72 percent during the 2015-2016 school year. The average amount of financial aid also grew from $10,800 to $12,300.
The data did reveal that the overall rate of student borrowing was lower in 2015-2016 than it was four years ago. During the 2011-2012 school year, 42 percent of students took out private student loans and federal student loans. During the 2015-2016 school year, this figure dropped to 38 percent.
This stayed consistent regardless of the type of institution students attended, whether it was a public university, private university, community college, or for-profit college. It was also true for both part-time and full-time students.
For-profit colleges saw the biggest drop in student borrowing; however, students that attended these programs had to borrower significantly more money. For instance, the average student loan amount at a two-year for-profit college was $8,400. In comparison, that average loan amount for attending a two-year community college is $4,700.
Overall, the average undergraduate took out $7,600 in student loans, which is an increase of $500 from four years earlier.
Universities handed out more grant aid during the 2015-2016 school year as well; during 2011-2012, 59 percent of undergraduates were awarded grants, a figure that rose to 63 percent four years later. And the number of students who received scholarships from their school increased five percent.
And while the number of students receiving Pell Grants dropped from 41 percent to 39 percent, the average amount a Pell Grant recipient received increased by $300.
Borrowing remained mostly stable for graduate students; 44 percent took out student loans, which is a decrease of only one percentage point from four years earlier. The average borrowing amount increased from $21,400 to $23,400. But the number of graduate students that earned fellowships dropped from 12 percent to eight percent. And those who did receive fellowships saw their value decline from $14,600 to $13,400.
And while the percentage of graduate students using federal Grad PLUS loans remained steady at 10 percent, the average loan amount increased to $22,300.
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