NCES releases first results from 2015-16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study

The study finds that 72 percent of undergraduates and graduate students received financial aid during the 2015-16 academic year

February 01, 2018

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NCThe U.S. Department of Education’s statistical arm – the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) – has released the First Look for the 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. The report, prepared by RTI International and NCES, provides nationally-representative and comprehensive data on student financial aid during the 2015–16 academic year.

The study, conducted every two to four years, collected data for a sample of 89,000 undergraduate and 24,000 graduate students enrolled in approximately 1,800 Title IV eligible postsecondary institutions at any time between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. This sample represents approximately 20 million undergraduate and 4 million graduate students enrolled during this time.

Students receive financial aid in the form of grants, loans, work-study, and other financial aid options, received from federal, state, institutional, employer, and other private sources. The report provides detailed data on each type and source of financial aid as well as key student and institutional characteristics including full- or part-time enrollment status, the student’s family income, and institution control and level.

In 2015–16, 72 percent of all undergraduate and graduate students received some kind of financial aid. The average amount of financial aid received was $12,300 for undergraduate students and $22,000 for graduate students. Fifty-five percent of undergraduates received federal student aid, 22 percent received state aid, and 25 percent received institutional aid.

Federal student aid programs were the most common: among undergraduates, 39 percent of undergraduates received Pell Grants, 36 percent took out federal Direct Loans, 31 percent took out Direct Subsidized Loans, and 30 percent took out Direct Unsubsidized loans. Undergraduates received an average of $3,700 in Pell Grants, $6,600 in Federal Direct Loans, $3,700 in Direct Subsidized Loans, and $4,000 in Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

Among graduate students, 40 percent received grants, 44 percent took out student loans, 40 percent took out federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and 10 percent took out federal Direct PLUS Loans.

This First Look report provides the first results of the 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, which is the most comprehensive survey of student financing for postsecondary education in the United States. The study was led by Jennifer Wine, Senior Director of Education Studies, RTI International. The report was authored by Wine along with David Radwin, Johnathan G. Conzelmann, Annaliza Nunnery, T. Austin Lacy, Joanna Wu, Stephen Lew, and Peter Siegel. The full report is available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2018466