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Key Points

  • In 2015-16, 82% of full-time students at public two-year colleges had need averaging $9,760 not met by grant aid; 8% of students received grant aid averaging $3,600 beyond their documented financial need.

  • Both the share of students with need remaining after grant aid and the average amount of this remaining need were highest for lower-income dependent students and independent students.

  • In 2015-16, almost all full-time dependent students from families with incomes below $70,000 at private nonprofit and for-profit institutions had need remaining after grant aid. That need averaged about $20,000 at nonprofit and $28,000 at for-profit institutions.

  • In 2015-16, 80% of full-time students at private nonprofit four-year institutions had need averaging $20,770 not met by grant aid; 16% of students received grant aid averaging $13,490 beyond their documented financial need. The remaining students either had no need and received no grants or had their need exactly met by grant aid.

  • Only 2% of full-time students at for-profit institutions received grant aid exceeding their documented need; for 97%, the combination of grant aid and expected family contributions left an average of $25,850 in expenses to be covered by loans, work, or other sources.

Figure 18: Average Unmet Need and Average Grant Aid Exceeding Need, Full-Time Students at Public Institutions, 2015-16

NOTES: Percentages on the horizontal axis are shares of students in each income/dependency group with unmet need or with grant aid exceeding need. Students who had no need and received no grant aid or received just enough grant aid to cover their need are not shown in the figure. Includes full-time undergraduate students who were U.S. citizens or permanent residents. N/A and missing bars indicate that sample sizes are too small to yield reliable results.

SOURCES: NCES, NPSAS, 2016; calculations by the authors.

Figure 19: Average Unmet Need and Average Grant Aid Exceeding Need, Full-Time Students at Private Institutions, 2015-16

NOTES: Percentages on the horizontal axis are shares of students in each income/dependency group with unmet need or with grant aid exceeding need. Includes full-time undergraduate students who were U.S. citizens or permanent residents. N/A and missing bars indicate that sample sizes are too small to yield reliable results.

SOURCES: NCES, NPSAS, 2016; calculations by the authors.

Also Important

  • Financial need is defined as the difference between students’ total budgets (including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and other expenses) and their EFCs.
  • Unmet need is usually defined as need remaining after grant aid, federal loans, and federal work-study—a smaller amount than the need remaining after grant aid reported in Figure 18.
  • Unmet need is usually defined as need remaining after grant aid, federal loans, and federal work-study—a smaller amount than the need remaining after grant aid reported in Figure 19.