State-awarded student financial aid decreased negligibly in 2020–21 to $14.784 billion, down 0.1 percent from the $14.801 billion awarded in 2019–20, according to the latest annual survey from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs.
The survey found that the majority of state aid—about 87 percent—came in the form of grants, 73 percent of which were need based. That represents a decrease of about 0.4 percent from 2019–20.
Undergraduate need-based grant aid decreased slightly nationwide from $9.3 billion in 2019–20 to about $9.15 billion in 2020–21, a decline of about 1.8 percent in nominal terms.
Eight states—California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington—collectively awarded about $6.3 billion in need-based undergraduate grant aid, accounting for roughly 69 percent of all such aid.
States also provided about $1.8 billion in nongrant student aid, of which tuition waivers made up 51 percent. The rest came in the form of loans, loan assumptions, conditional grants and work-study.
The report notes that the data represent a period in which state resources were severely challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they demonstrate that even in the face of hardship and uncertainty, states remain committed to funding higher education.
“States, even when resources are limited, continue to recognize the importance of achieving their degree attainment goals by providing vital financial support to postsecondary students,” said NASSGAP president Katie Harrison. “By delivering grants and scholarships through student aid programs, states have underscored their commitment to offering financial assistance to students while addressing critical workforce needs.”