States increased their financial aid for undergraduate students by a decade-high $950 million during the 2017-18 academic year, according to a survey from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP). Three-quarters of the grant aid was classified by NASSGAP as need-based.
Frank Ballmann, a director at NASSGAP, told Inside Higher Ed that the increase was “by far the largest” he’s seen since he started as director in 2010. Whereas previous years produced anywhere from 1 percent to 6 percent increases in state financial aid, 2017-18 resulted in a staggering 8.62 percent increase.
Increasing financial aid has emerged as “a bipartisan issue in the states because there are seven million vacant jobs across the country. Those are going to go overseas if we don’t make that investment,” Ballman told Inside Higher Ed. He added that governors facing worker shortages have new incentives to encourage postsecondary education and prioritize college aid programs.
Need-based aid grew by approximately $590 million in the 2017-18 academic year, writes Education Dive. Most came from California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, and Washington. New Jersey distributed the most need-based aid, giving out $1,569 per full-time student, compared to the national average of $667. Florida logged the largest increase (nearly 80 percent) in both need-based and non-need-based grants, according to Inside Higher Ed. Georgia and New Hampshire, meanwhile, still have no need-based aid programs.
“Many states are recognizing that need-based grants are investments in their residents and enable students who would not otherwise be able to enroll in postsecondary education programs to earn credentials that provide a net return to those individuals, their families and communities through higher earnings and community involvement,” NASSGAP president Elizabeth McDuffie said in a statement.