States allocating more aid based on financial need

The amount of financial aid states awarded based on financial need grew by 2.9 percent from 2015-16 to 2016-17 and by 52.2 percent in the last decade, according to an annual report from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP). Inside Higher Ed puts the increase in dollar terms, showing that states allocated some $233 million more in need-based grants in 2016-17 than they did the prior academic year.

In comparison, the amount of grant aid awarded based on other—or additional—factors grew by just 0.7 percent between 2015-16 and 2016-17 and by 21.9 percent across the decade from 2006-7 to 2016-17.

The slow-moving shift could signal a growing belief that states are better off spending aid dollars on “lower-income students and others who may not otherwise go to college,” says Inside Higher Ed. Frank Ballmann, the head of NASSGAP’s Washington office, put the change in perspective, noting that “trying to get big increases in that [proportion] is like trying to change the course of a barge or ocean liner.” He added, “the shift to need does seem to be accelerating at an accelerating rate.”

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