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FAFSA statistics 2022: What is the average financial aid for college?

High school student studies in the library
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High school student studies in the library
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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that college students need to fill out yearly to receive federal or state financial aid. The application for the 2022-23 academic year opened on Oct. 1, 2021, and will close on June 30, 2023.

While some families choose not to file the FAFSA, many would be surprised at how much financial aid is available. Here’s a breakdown of what type of aid is offered and how much you could receive.

Loan Student
Key takeaway
Approximately 85 percent of full-time undergraduates received financial aid in the 2019-20 school year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Key FAFSA statistics

  • For 2019-20, the National Center for Education Statistics found that the average grant and scholarship aid for full-time students at four-year institutions was $14,080.
  • According to Sallie Mae, only 68 percent of families submitted the FAFSA for 2020-21.
  • The same Sallie Mae report found that 29 percent of families who received a financial aid offer appealed for more aid, and 71 percent of those appeals were granted.
  • Federal Student Aid data shows that approximately 17.8 million FAFSAs were submitted during the 2020-21 application cycle.

What percentage of students receive financial aid?

Each federal financial aid package is unique; it’s based on factors like the student’s enrollment status, the student’s expected family contribution and the school’s cost of attendance. For example, private colleges may offer more financial aid than public schools, but that’s because private schools typically have a much higher cost of attendance.

Full-time undergraduates awarded financial aid by race/ethnicity

2015-16 2011-12 2007-08 2003-04 1999-2000
White
85.7%
82.6%
78.1%
73.3%
69.9%
Black
95.5%
94%
92.1%
88.7%
88%
Hispanic
89%
88.3%
84.3%
78.8%
77.1%
Asian
71.3%
71.4%
69.5%
65.1%
60.3%
Pacific Islander
90.1%
82.1%
81.4%
71.1%
62.3%
American Indian/Alaska Native
92.2%
93%
85.9%
81.1%
81.5%
Two or more races
88.6%
85.8%
83.4%
77.1%
75.6%
Other
N/A
N/A
79.8%
72.2%
61.9%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

FAFSA filing statistics

All U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens can fill out the FAFSA. And aid is not limited to graduating high schoolers and undergraduates; students from all walks of life and pursuing many types of degrees may qualify for aid.

According to data from Federal Student Aid, of those who filed a FAFSA for the 2020-21 academic year:

  • 63 percent are female students and 37 percent are male students.
  • 47 percent are first-generation college students.
  • 11 percent are 18 years old or younger, and 41 percent are age 25 or older.
  • 13 percent are pursuing a graduate or professional degree.
  • 24 percent have never attended college before.
  • 48 percent are considered dependent students, while 52 percent are independent students.

FAFSA applications submitted in the last decade

The number of FAFSAs submitted since 2010 has decreased steadily; FAFSA submissions for the 2020-21 school year were the lowest they’ve been in over a decade.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cost of higher education could both contribute to the decline in FAFSA applications, with many students dropping out of college or choosing to pursue other options.

Here’s a breakdown of FAFSAs submitted per year:

Year Number of FAFSAs submitted
2020-21
17,866,369
2019-20
18,086,485
2018-19
18,535,732
2017-18
18,969,616
2016-17
18,741,055
2015-16
19,757,764
2014-15
20,561,929
2013-14
21,193,753
2012-13
21,804,708
2011-12
21,949,308
2010-11
21,116,700
2009-10
19,490,666

Source: Federal Student Aid

Financial aid by state

States offer their own grant and scholarship opportunities to residents. Many of these are available through the FAFSA, though others require a separate application. Check your state’s grant agency for more information on available opportunities.

State Average available state aid per undergraduate in 2019
Alabama
$449.64
Alaska
$766.02
Arizona
$89.77
Arkansas
$1,181.14
California
$1,926.87
Colorado
$506.96
Connecticut
$303.40
Delaware
$346.04
Florida
$968.55
Georgia
$2,511.65
Hawaii
$153.70
Idaho
$149.67
Illinois
$1,355.09
Indiana
$1,210.20
Iowa
$600.38
Kansas
$173.06
Kentucky
$1,926.47
Louisiana
$2,378.05
Maine
$333.92
Maryland
$583.95
Massachusetts
$379.62
Michigan
$398.02
Minnesota
$1,249.05
Mississippi
$548.58
Missouri
$633.15
Montana
$13.38
Nebraska
$272.48
Nevada
$496.03
New Hampshire
$38.61
New Jersey
$2,341.20
New Mexico
$1,814.76
New York
$1,341.44
North Carolina
$1,197.62
North Dakota
$481.65
Ohio
$294.84
Oklahoma
$854.72
Oregon
$876.49
Pennsylvania
$941.25
Rhode Island
$186.19
South Carolina
$2,928.26
South Dakota
$168.39
Tennessee
$2,365.39
Texas
$1,163.12
Utah
$62.99
Vermont
$573.67
Virginia
$1,694.24
Washington
$1,315.80
Washington, D.C.
$612.02
West Virginia
$897.99
Wisconsin
$627.74
Wyoming
N/A

Source: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. These numbers do not account for state assistance through subsidized tuition.

Types of federal financial aid

Most federal financial aid is need-based, determined using a student’s expected family contribution, but some aid is available to all students. In general, grants and work-study are based on need, while loans are not. Here are some of the types of financial aid you may receive through the FAFSA:

  • Grants: Grants are a type of free money typically distributed to students who demonstrate financial need. There are four major federal grants available through the FAFSA: the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant and the TEACH Grant.
  • Loans: Federal student loans can cover most educational expenses and are typically repaid over a period of 10 years. There are three main types: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans. Subsidized loans don’t accrue interest until after the grace period is over, which is why they’re the only type limited to students with financial need.
  • Work-study: The federal work-study program is a need-based form of aid that allows students to work a part-time job while attending school. Students who qualify typically work an on-campus job and are encouraged to use the money they earn on academic-related expenses.

FAQ

What does FAFSA stand for?

FAFSA is an acronym that stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is the form that college students fill out when applying for federal financial aid and college-specific aid. Everyone attending a qualifying U.S. institution is eligible to submit the FAFSA regardless of age, year of school or citizenship status, though only U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens may receive federal aid.

When does the FAFSA open?

The FAFSA opens each year on Oct. 1 for the upcoming academic year. For example, students applying for financial aid for the 2022-23 aid year could access the form as early as Oct. 1, 2021. The 2023-24 application opens on Oct. 1, 2022.

When is the FAFSA due?

The FAFSA closes on June 30 at 11:59 p.m. CT in the academic year for which you’re applying. For example, if you were applying for the 2022-23 academic year, the due date to apply would fall on June 30, 2023.

Any updates, corrections or changes can be made to the FASFA after the application closes through Sept. 10 at 11:59 p.m. CT.

How long until I get my FAFSA financial aid?

After you submit your FAFSA, the information is sent to the financial aid offices of the schools you listed on your form. When you receive your acceptance letters from colleges, you will also be sent a financial aid award letter detailing all of the aid you’re eligible for. These are typically sent out between March and April.

The timing of your funds disbursement depends on your school, but typically funds will be disbursed in the weeks leading up to the start of each semester — meaning you may receive two disbursements in one academic year. However, if you’re a freshman taking out federal student loans for the first time, your loan may not be disbursed until 30 days after the start of the semester. To check on the status or timing of your funds disbursement, contact your school’s financial aid office.

Written by
Hanneh Bareham
Student loans reporter
Hanneh Bareham specializes in everything related to student loans and helping you finance your next educational endeavor. She aims to help others reach their collegiate and financial goals through making student loans easier to understand.
Edited by
Student loans editor