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Below are some highlights from Trends in Student Aid 2021. Visit our resource library for the full report, Excel data, and PowerPoint presentation.

How Much Aid Are Students Getting?

$234.9 billion: The total amount of aid that undergraduate and graduate students received in 2020-21 from all grants, federal loans, tax credits, and federal work-study.

Average aid per full-time equivalent (FTE) student in 2020-21 was:

  • $14,800 per undergraduate student
  • $26,920 per graduate student

Grant Aid

$138.6 billion: The total amount of grant aid received by undergraduate and graduate students in 2020-21.

Federal grant aid: In 2020-21, total federal grant aid was $38.1 billion including $26.0 billion in Pell Grants. Since 2010-11, federal grant aid—including Pell Grants—has been declining as a share of the total grant aid.

State grants: Aid from states has been increasing over the past 8 years, and the amount varies by state. In 2019-20, state grant aid per full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate student ranged from under $200 in eight states to over $1,000 in 18 states.

Institutional grant aid: Aid from colleges and universities grew rapidly over the past 10 years, from $45.5 billion (in 2020 dollars) in 2010-11 to $71.1 billion in 2020-21.


$95.9 billion: The total amount that parents and students borrowed in federal and nonfederal loans to pay for postsecondary education in 2020-21.

  • This was the tenth consecutive year that annual borrowing declined.

Student Debt

$28,400: The average amount borrowed by 2019-20 bachelor’s degree recipients who took out loans to pay for college. It was $28,000 in 2009-10 and $30,700 in 2014-15.

As of March 2021, 54% of borrowers with outstanding education debt owed less than $20,000 and 10% owed $80,000 or more.