Photo: Latino Student Financial Aid
States increased need-based grant aid to undergraduate students by 6 percent in the academic year 2011-2012, while total state financial aid to students grew by about 2 percent, according to an annual survey released Monday.
The survey, by the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, found that the states awarded $11.1 billion in student financial aid in 2011-2012, including loans and other aid, an increase of 1.8 percent from the previous year, adjusted for inflation.
Frank Ballmann, the association’s director of federal relations, said that despite the fiscal cutbacks in a lackluster economy, states “continue to recognize that it’s important to have more people attending college and graduating from college (because) ultimately, having qualified college graduates attracts employers who need to fill 21st century jobs.”
The survey also found that nongrant student aid, including loans, work study and tuition waivers, dropped almost 4 percent from the previous year.
In 2011-2012, states awarded $4.7 billion to undergraduates through programs based only on financial need; they awarded $3.9 billion through programs with a merit component.
According to the study, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Washington, D.C., provided the most grant aid per capita while Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Kentucky provided the most grant awards per student enrolled.
Ballmann noted that Indiana, whose economy has been battered by the Great Recession, was among the states that have increased need-based grants. From the academic years 2010-2011 to 2011-2012, Indiana increased need-based grant aid by 4.8 percent, from $238.8 million to $250.3 million. Over a 10-year period, the state more than doubled aid in the same category.
In the same 10 years, California has nearly tripled the amount of money it gives to students in need-based grants, from $514 million in 2001-2002 to nearly $1.5 billion.