State Financial Aid

While the federal government is the largest provider of financial aid, states also provide aid. There’s a big difference, too: Most federal aid comes in the form of loans, whereas a new study from NASSGAP (National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs) shows that over 90% of aid provided by states comes in the form of grants.

Of all the states, only Georgia and New Hampshire do not have need-based grant programs. Other states’ programs of course vary in their funding levels and requirements.

Consistent with trends we see in private education, non-need-based grant aid is increasing at the state level, too. Overall, exclusively need-based aid represented slightly less than half of all state grant aid in 2013-2014, the most recent year for which data is available, with exclusively merit-based aid accounting for almost 20%. (The remainder includes other programs and those with both need and merit components.) According to the report, merit grants at the state level have increased by 49% over the last 10 years. Merit grants often include scholarships offered to students at a public university’s honors college, for example.

In almost every state, the majority of grant aid goes to students at the state’s own public colleges and universities, but almost all offer some grants to students attending private, not-for-profit institutions and some can be used out of state. The amounts available and qualifications vary widely from state to state. Nonetheless, it’s worth taking a look at your state’s options.

Click here for a list of and links to state aid programs.

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