Trends In Student Aid Available For Graduate Students

With reference from the College Board, we have made a report on the latest data on the prices of attending college and the amount of student aid that is available to help students and families pay for the colleges they wish to join. Here, you can get the data from the year 1989 to 2020 regarding different types of student aid provided by the government and private institutions.

Total Student Aid for Graduate Students

Student aid is also called student financial aid or student financial support is offered to the students who want to pursue their education. Student assistance is available from federal and state governments, educational institutions, and private entities, which can be awarded in various ways, which includes scholarships, student loans, grants, and work-study programs. This grant would only be available to students attending a U.S. post-secondary educational institution.

In 2019-20, in the form of grants from all sources, Federal Job Study (FWS), federal loans, and federal tax credits and deductions, undergraduate and graduate students earned a total of $242.0 billion in student assistance.

  • The share of overall student assistance from the federal government declined from 74% in 2009-10 and 2010-11 to 59% in 2019-2020.
  • Total grant funding for post-secondary students grew by 24% (in inflation-adjusted dollars) to $140.9 billion between 2009-10 and 2019-20. Institutional grants grew the fastest, growing by 65% to $68.9 billion.
  • Total federal loans decreased by 27% in inflation-adjusted dollars between 2009-10 and 2019-20, to $87.6 billion.
  • In 2019-20, 76% ($183.8 billion) of total student assistance was obtained by undergraduate students, including 95% of all federal grants and 57% of federal loans. They received 86% of the overall grant aid from all sources and 62%, including non-federal loans, of all loans. The majority of the assistance was funded by graduate students.

Aid Per Graduate student

Help per student is the cumulative amount of aid earned from all grants, tax credits, loans, and work-study by a graduate student, and these sums depend on the student’s financial needs. There are interaction effects, however, between the quantities of the different forms of awards.

The average grant aid per FTE graduate student increased by 44% (from $6,420 to $9,260 in 2019 dollars) between 1999-2000 and 2019-20.

  • For both undergraduate and graduate students, the total federal loans per FTE student peaked in 2010-11. Federal loans per FTE graduate student dropped from a high of $20,110 in 2010-11 to $17,470 in 2019-20.
  • The average other assistance (federal tax benefits and work-study) was $580 per FTE graduate student in 2019-20.

Grants Loans, and Other Aid for Graduate Students

A loan is an amount of money that is lent for potential repayment of the value with interest from financial sources that could be government or private lenders. The loan, along with debt that builds up over time, needs to be paid back later. Usually, the money may be used for tuition, room and board, books, or other expenses. Student loans are distinct from grants and scholarships. Loans still have to be paid back, although there is no obligation to pay back loans and grants. Student loans may come from the federal government, from private sources such as a financial institution or a bank, or from other organizations.

Grants are non-repayable grants given to students by the U.S. federal government, which is one of the world’s largest grant providers. Usually, obtaining federal grant money includes an application for a particular grant to show competence in a certain field and a plan of action. Grants also require research and development that can not be readily undertaken by the government itself. Grants may provide organizations with vital tools to carry out programs or provide services they would otherwise not be able to do.

Loans (including both federal and non-federal) dropped from 43% of the funds students used in 2009-10 to 32% in 2019-20 to supplement their own and their family capital.

  • In addition, loans consistently made up 63% to 70% of the funds graduate students used to augment their own resources to finance their studies between 1999-2000 and 2019-20.
  • During this 20-year period, grants were the source of 26% to33% of graduate student funding.
  • The combination of federal tax benefits and Federal Work-Study(FWS) accounted for 2% of all student assistance and non-federal loans for graduate students in 2019-2020.
  • Total grant aid rose by 27% for graduate students and total loan volume dropped by 3% between 2009-10 and 2019-20.

Total Graduate Student Aid by Type

Graduate student funding provides grants to help students pay for their education from the government, private organizations, and/or from an educational institution. There are different forms of financial assistance, including scholarships, work-study, loans, and grants. The burden of tuition expenses can be minimized by financial assistance. As mentioned below, the graduate student form forms are:

  • Federal Work-Study
  • Federal Education Tax Benefits
  • Federal Loans
  • Private and Employer Grants
  • Institutional Grants
  • State Grants
  • Federal Veterans’ Benefits

Total financial assistance for graduate students peaked in 2010-11 (60.9% billion in 2019 dollars) and decreased in 2019-20 to $58.2 billion.

  • Federal loans for graduate students more than doubled between 1999-2000 and 2009-10, rising from $15.6 billion to $38.6 billion dollars in 2019. Over the next decade, federal loans for these students have fallen by 3% to $37.3 billion in 2019-20.
  • Institutional grants for graduate students increased by 53% between 1999-2000 and 2009-10, from $ 6.0 billion to $ 9.2 billion in 2019. Over the next decade, institutional grants increased another 42% to $13.0 billion in 2019-20.
  • Federal loans accounted for the largest share of the assistance to graduate students in 1999-2000, i.e. 61%; institutional grants were 23% and 10% of private and employer grants. Those shares were 68%, 16% and 9%, respectively, in 2009-10. Federal loans were 64% of the total in 2019-20, institutional grants increased to 22%, and private and employer grants were 8% of the total.
  • Graduate enrollment increased by 6% between 2009-10 and 2019-20, while total grant funding to graduate students increased by 27% and total aid increased by 2% (including grants, loans, and other aid). The average grant aid per graduate student increased by 20% ($1,540) during this decade, and the average total aid per graduate student decreased by 4% ($1,120).

Sources of Grant Aid for Graduate Students

Grants are a form of need-based financial aid which students do not have to repay. Grants come from numerous sources, including community grants, private and employer grants, institutional grants, and federal grants.

  1. State Grants: This grant differs widely from state to state and funds learners on the basis of need or academic merit. This assistance is only offered by most states to students who stay in the state to attend public or private colleges.
  2. Private and Employer Grants: This grant includes funds from private sources, such as foundations, as well as employers’ educational stipends.
  3. Institutional Grants: This grant is also referred to as a scholarship, tuition discounts, and fees based on need, academic credentials, or other features.
  4. Federal Grants: For students attending college or career school, this grant is supported by the federal government. Unlike loans, most forms of grants are sources of free money that do not necessarily have to be repaid.

Between 1999-2000 and 2009-10, the overall amount of grant assistance funding postsecondary students rose by 119% (following the adjective for inflation) and by another 24% between 2009-10 and 2019-20, reaching a total of $140.9 billion.

  • Institutional grant aid increased by $27.1 billion (dollars in 2019) between 2009-10 and 2019-20, reaching a total of $68.9 billion in 2019-20. In 2019-20, institutional grants accounted for almost half of all grant funding for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Between 1999-2000 and 2009-10, federal grants ranged between 27 and 41% of all grant aid for undergraduate and graduate students. This share increased in 2010-11 to 44% but declined in 2019-20 to 30%.
  • State grant aid has been between 8% and 9% of all grant aid since 2009-10. Total state grant aid rose by 66% between 1999-2000 and 2009-10 (after adjusting for inflation) and by another 23% over the decade ending in 2019-20.
  • Over the two decades from 1999-2000 through 2019-20, grants from employers and other private sources were between 12% and 17% of overall grant funding to postsecondary students and were 12% of the total in 2019-20.
  • Grant funding for veterans, which grew during the last decade from $9.2 billion (in 2019 dollars) to $12.9 billion, increased from 20% of federal grant aid in 2009-10 to 31% in 2019-20. At the same time, from $35.7 billion to $27.8 billion, or from 76% to 67% of the total, Pell Grant declined.
  • In 2019-20, in the form of assistance to veterans, 66% of schools, 23% from employers and other private sources, and 2% from states, 10% of graduate student grant funding came from the federal government.

Types of Loans for Graduate Students

A loan is an amount of money that students borrow from financial institutions in order to financially finance interest-based scheduled or unplanned events. The different types of Loans are:

  1. Non Federal Loans: Private banks and lending institutions sell these loans and they vary from federal student loans. The borrower must fulfill the credit conditions of the lender, and a co-signer is most often necessary for the loan. Among lenders, the interest rate, terms, and conditions differ.
  2. Perkins Loans: Such loans are provided by the Perkins Loan Program of the US government. This program provides graduate students with low-interest loans that have shown extraordinary financial need.
  3. Grad PLUS Loans: These loans are sometimes referred to as PLUS loans for graduates. This is a federal student loan available for graduate and technical school students pursuing graduate school. You must be a graduate or technical student enrolled at least half-time at a qualifying school in a program leading to a graduate or professional degree or credential in order to obtain the graduate PLUS loan.
  4. Parent PLUS Loans: Parents investing on behalf of their children are given these loans. A Parent PLUS Loan must be paid back only by the parent borrower, since only the parent signed the master promissory note for the Parent PLUS Loan. It is not the duty of the student to repay a Parent PLUS Loan.
  5. Federal Unsubsidized Loans: These loans are federally secured loans available to students who wish to pursue college, but who do not have the financial capital to do so. Qualified graduate, undergraduate and technical students are provided with this loan. These loans are not dependent on financial need. 
  6. Federal Subsidized Loans: These loans are given by federal assistance based on financial need, and the interest does not accrue when the student is in college, since the federal government pays the interest.

Between 2009-10 and 2019-20, gross annual student and parent borrowings for postsecondary education decreased by 21% ($26.9 billion in 2019 dollars).

  • In 2019-20, gross annual education borrowing dropped for the ninth consecutive year.
  • Over the decades, Federal Direct student loans have fallen by $36.5 billion. Increased when investing into programs without fixing borrowing caps. Since 2009-10, Grad PLUS has increased by $4.2 billion and parent PLUS has increased by $1.7 billion.
  • Students borrow loans from banks, credit unions, and other private lenders for non-federal schooling, including several state and postsecondary institutions. These loans, which are not part of the student support system and usually do not provide grants, declined from approximately $28 billion (in 2019 dollars) in 2007-08 to $9 billion in 2010-11, but rose to $14 billion by 2019-20, accounting for about 14% of all college loans.
  • Subsidized and unsubsidized loans do not have any collateral standards. Borrowers may not have a “adverse credit history” identified as being 90 days or more overdue on any debt greater than $2,085 or subject to default determination, bankruptcy discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment, or write-off of a federal education debt within the five years preceding the date of the credit report. Borrowers can qualify for PLUS loans.

Federal Aid for Graduate Students

The federal government, specifically the US Department of Education, which is one of the largest providers of student financial aid in the United States, provides federal aid. Expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transport are protected by this assistance. There are four types of Federal Student Aid: grant, scholarship, study work, and loan.


In 2019-20, compared to just over $4,000 per Pell Grant recipient, the total benefits from the Post-9/11 Bill initiative were almost $16,000. Compared with 728,000 veterans’ compensation recipients, there were 6.7 million Pell Grant recipients.

  • The overall number of borrowers in the subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loan program was 7.4 million in 2019-20, which is less than the amount of recipients in either program since both schemes included more than half of all borrowers.
  • In 2018-19, 32% of Pell Grant funds were received by public two-year college students, who made up 31% of the enrollment of full-time equivalent (FTE) students.
  • In 2018-19, students in the private nonprofit sector accounted for 23% of total postsecondary FTE enrollment. Students received 68% of Grad PLUS loans, 42% of Parent Plus loans, and 42% of Federal Work-Study (FWS) funds.
  • For undergraduates only, Pell Grants, FSEOG, and Direct Subsidized loans. Grad PLUS loans are exclusively for college students. Both undergraduate and graduate students have access to FWS, Direct Unsubsidized grants, and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
  • From 733,000 in 1999 to 613,000 in 2019-20, the number of students receiving FWS funds dropped.
  • In 2012-13, 41% of the benefits of Post-9/11 GI Bill veterans went to for-profit sector students. Congress passed legislation known as the “Forever GI Bill” in 2017, increasing the generosity of veterans’ educational benefits.

Federal Loans for Graduate Students

The federal government is providing federal loans that allow students and parents/guardians to directly borrow money for college. Low fixed interest rates, income-based repayment plans, loan forgiveness, deferment options, including deferment of loan payments when a student returns to school, provide federal student loans. Generally, until after the student leaves school, repayment of a federal loan does not begin. 

Federal Students Loans is categorized in to five types: 

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Parent PLUS Loans
  • Graduate PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans

Total federal loans to graduate students decreased by 3% ($1.1 billion) between 2009-10 and 2019-20, following rapid growth in annual borrowing between 2004-05 and 2009-10.

  • The proportion of federal college loans to graduate students (who make up about 15% of all postsecondary students) increased from 32% ($23.2 billion out of $71.8 billion in 2019 dollars) in 2004-05 to 43% ($37.3 billion out of $87.6 billion) in 2019-20.
  • In 2019-20, 422,000 graduate students borrowed via the PLUS graduate program; 1.4 million unsubsidized loans were borrowed. Via the PLUS scheme, the total amount lent was $7,420 higher than the average unsubsidized loan ($25,930 vs. $18,510).
  • Graduate and technical students can borrow from the subsidized and unsubsidized loan program, including their undergraduate borrowing, for up to a lifetime total of $138,500. Each year students are enrolled, they can borrow via the grad PLUS program up to the full attendance cost not covered by grant funding, including living expenses and books and supplies in addition to tuition and fees.
  • The Parent PLUS program, like the graduate PLUS program, allows borrowing to finance the full budgets of students with less grant assistance earned for an infinite amount of enrollment years.

Outstanding Federal Loans for Graduate Students

Outstanding Federal Loans applies to loans with a balance that exists. In other words, if students still owe more money to any student loan provider, they have student loans that are unpaid. When all of the unpaid student loans have been paid off, it is said that their student loans are paid in full.


More than half of the debt kept in repayment by student loan borrowers is now in income-driven repayment (IDR) programs that restrict a share of income to monthly payments.

  • In March 2020, 32% of federal Direct loan repayment borrowers were on IDR plans, up from 13% in 2014.
  • 19% of borrowers (and 13% of outstanding dollars) were in default in March 2020. Compared with $32,300 on all unpaid loans, the total balance on defaulted loans was $21,700.
  • Changes in the borrower’s accounts as a result of the executive action taken by the administration at the end of March, as well as clauses in the CARES Act, which was signed on 27 March 2020.
  • Until September 30, 2020, the CARES Act halted federal student loan refunds, terminated collections on defaulted federal student loans, and suspended interest accrual on all federal student loans. The student loan terms were extended to the end of 2020 by a subsequent Executive Order. As a result, approximately 70% of all unpaid Direct Loan total balances were in forbearance as of June 30, 2020, compared with around 10% a year earlier.

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About Emily

Emily is a DePaul University Undergraduate student. She is a major in computer science and a mathematical minor. Emily plans to pursue a Master's degree in computer science in the future. Emily's key goal in the technology sector is to get into the right category.

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