January 14, 2022
State financial aid totals continued to grow during the 2019–20 academic year, just before state budgets and family incomes were roiled by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest report from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs.
States awarded about $14.8 billion in financial aid during the 2019–20 academic year, according to the NASSGAP report. That total reflects a nominal 4.5 percent increase over the $14.1 billion in financial aid awarded during the 2018–19 academic year, or a 2.6 percent increase in constant, inflation-adjusted dollars.
Most of that total—87 percent—was handed out to students via grants, which do not need to be repaid. States doled out 4.2 million grants in the 2019–20 academic year, totaling $12.9 billion in grant aid, the report showed. States paid out another $1.8 billion in nongrant aid, about half of which took the form of tuition waivers. Loans, loan assumptions, conditional grants and work-study made up the remainder of that total.
Need-based grant aid for undergraduate students increased by $400 million during the 2019–20 academic year, amounting to $9.3 billion.
“This year was a relatively large increase,” said Frank Ballmann, director of federal relations at NASSGAP. “I can’t get too carried away, because two years prior we had our largest increase in the past decade, but it’s a healthy increase and spread across quite a few states.”
Eight states—California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington—awarded more than two-thirds of the total national need-based grant aid during the 2019–20 academic year, amounting to $6.3 billion among them. California led the pack, handing out $2.4 billion in need-based grant aid that year.