The total amount of grant aid supporting postsecondary students increased by 85% (after adjusting for inflation) between 1997-98 and 2007-08 and by another 64% between 2007-08 and 2017-18, reaching a total of $129.4 billion.
- Almost all of the growth in total grant aid over the last decade occurred between 2007-08 and 2012-13, as full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment increased by 13%. Between 2012-13 and 2017-18, FTE enrollment declined by 5% and total grant aid increased by 7%.
- Federal grants fluctuated between 27% and 32% of all grant aid for undergraduate and graduate students between 1997-98 and 2007-08. This share rose to 44% in 2010-11, but declined to 32% in 2017-18.
- Institutional aid is the only type of grant aid that grew rapidly between 2012-13 and 2017-18. Colleges and universities increased their aid by 24%, from $48.4 billion (in 2017 dollars) in 2012-13 to $60.0 billion in 2017-18.
- From 1997-98 to 2007-08, state grant aid was between 12% and 13% of all grant aid. From 2009-10 to 2017-18, it was between 8% and 9% of all grant aid. Total state grant aid grew by 83% (after adjusting for inflation) between 1997-98 and 2007-08 and by another 18% over the decade ending in 2017-18.
- Grants from employers and other private sources were between 12% and 17% of total grant aid to postsecondary students for the entire two decades from 1997-98 through 2017-18 and were 13% of the total in 2017-18.
Figure 5: Total Grant Aid in 2017 Dollars by Source of Grant, 1997-98 to 2017-18
NOTES: Percentages may not sum to 100 because of rounding.
SOURCES: See Notes and Sources for a list of sources for grants included in Figure 5.
- Grant aid for veterans, which grew from $3.3 billion (in 2017 dollars) to $12.7 billion over the decade, increased from 15% of federal grant aid in 2007-08 to 31% in 2017-18. At the same time, Pell Grants, which rose from $17.2 billion to $28.2 billion, declined from 78% to 68% of the total. (Table 1)
- The composition of grant aid for graduate students is quite different from that for undergraduate students—and from the totals in Figure 5. In 2017-18, 11% of graduate student grant aid came from the federal government (including aid to veterans), 64% from institutions, 24% from employers and other private sources, and 2% from states. For undergraduate students, the percentages were 36%, 44%, 11%, and 10%, respectively. (Table 1)