Trends in Student Aid: Highlights

Review highlights from the Trends in Student Aid 2021 report. You can find the full report, Excel data, and PowerPoint presentation in the Resources section at the bottom of this page.

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.