2011–12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:12): Student Financial Aid Estimates for 2011–12

By Betsy Prueter and Celia Hartman Sims

The U.S. Department of Education recently released a report on how students are financing their college educations using data from its National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), a comprehensive survey of more than 100,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Data from the 2011-2012 academic year show that a majority of students at both the undergraduate and graduate level received financial aid to pay for their postsecondary education. The last NPSAS surveyed students in 2007-2008.

Among the report’s findings, for the 2011-2012 academic year:

  • 71% of all undergraduate students received any type of financial aid (federal, state or institutional).
    • 59% received some type of grant.
    • 42% took out some type of loan.
    • 6% received aid through a work study job.
    • 4% received veterans’ benefits.
    • 5% had parents who took out a federal Parent PLUS loan.
  • Of those undergraduates who received any type of financial assistance in 2011-2012, the average amount of aid received was $10,800.
    • The average grant aid was $6,200.
    • The average amount borrowed in loans was $7,100.
    • The average work study award was $2,300.
    • The average veterans’ benefit was $7,500.
    • The average amount borrowed by parents through federal Parent PLUS loans was $12,100.
  • 57% of all undergraduates received federal financial aid in 2011-2012. 15% of all undergraduates received state-funded aid, and 21% of all undergraduates received institutional-funded aid.
    • The average total federal financial aid was $8,200.
    • The average total state-funded aid was $2,700.
    • The average total institutional aid was $6,500.
  • Looking at federal Title IV undergraduate student aid alone in 2011-2012:
    • 41% of students received a Pell grant with an average grant award of $3,400.
    • 11% received some form of campus-based aid program assistance with an average award of $1,700.
    • 40% borrowed through a federal Direct Loan with an average loan amount of $6,400.
  • 70% of all graduate students received any type of financial aid (federal, state or institutional).
    • 36% received some type of grant.
    • 15% received some type of employer-provided aid.
    • 12% received assistance through an assistantship.
    • 45% took out some type of loan.
    • 43% borrowed through a federal Direct loan.
    • 10% borrowed through a federal Grad PLUS loan.
  • Of those graduates who received any type of financial assistance in 2011-2012, the average amount of aid received was $22,000.
    • The average grant aid was $10,800.
    • The average employer-provided aid was $8,200.
    • The average assistantship was $14,600.
    • The average amount borrowed through any type of loan was $21,400.
    • The average amount borrowed through a federal Direct loan was $17,000.
    • The average borrowed through a federal Grad PLUS loan as $18,600.