Notes & Sources

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Source: Trends in Student Aid.
© 2013 The College Board.

Data Definitions

Federally Supported Programs: Only federal funds allocated for campus-based aid programs are included in reported federal aid amounts. Perkins Loans are  funded from past federal and institutional capital contributions as well as collections from borrowers. Since FY 2006, no funds have been appropriated for new federal capital contributions. All Perkins Loans awarded are included as federal loans. Institutional matching funds required by the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program since 1989-90 are reported under institutional grants.

  • LEAP. Formerly known as the State Student Incentive Grant (SSIG) program, the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) monies reported under federally supported aid include federal monies only; the state share is included in the state grant category. Funding for the LEAP programs ended with the 2010-11 academic year.
  • Veterans. Benefits are payments for postsecondary education and training to veterans and their dependents, including the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance program established in 2009-10 and all programs established earlier. Some of these funds also cover living expenses and other education-related costs. The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants program began in 2010-11. These grants provide non-need-based grants for students whose parent or guardian was a member of the Armed Forces who died in Iraq or Afghanistan as a result of performing military service after Sept. 11, 2001.
  • Military. Includes educational expenditures under the F. Edward Hebert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program; Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs for the Air Force, Army, and Navy/ Marines; and higher education tuition assistance for the active duty Armed Forces.
  • Other Federal Grants. Includes Higher Education Grants for Indian Students; American Indian Scholarships; Indian Health Service Scholarships; National Science Foundation predoctoral fellowships (minority and general graduate); National Health Service Corps Scholarships; National Institutes of Health predoctoral individual awards; the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program; and college grants provided to volunteers in the AmeriCorps national service programs, for which funding began in 1994-95.
  • Federal Direct, PLUS, and Perkins Loans. Data provided by the Department of Education on education loan disbursements.
  • Other Federal Loans. Includes loans from the Health Professions Student Loan Program, Disadvantaged Student Loans, the Nursing Student Loan Program, and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant program. The TEACH grant program is operated as a loan program with 100% loan forgiveness upon completion of a service requirement. Current estimates suggest that approximately three-quarters of participating students will not complete the required service and thus will have their grants converted to Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

Education Tax Benefits. Data on education tax credits are IRS estimates of the volume of Hope, Lifetime Learning, and American Opportunity credits for tax years 1998 and later. For nonrefundable credits, only those claimed on taxable returns are included. Tax deductions are based on IRS Statistics of Income (.pdf/18MB), with associated savings estimated by the authors based on the marginal tax rates applied to the taxable income of the
taxpayers in each income bracket claiming the deduction on taxable returns. Calendar year amounts are split between the two associated academic years.

Direct Subsidized Loans: Need-based student loans for which the federal government pays the interest while the student is in school and during a six-month grace period thereafter. Prior to June 2012, these loans were available to both undergraduate and graduate students, but the Budget Control Act of 2011 eliminated the program for graduate students, whose federal loans are now all unsubsidized or Grad PLUS loans.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Unsubsidized loans are issued by the federal government through the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP). Prior to July 2010, loans were issued either through the FDSLP or issued by private lenders and guaranteed by the federal government.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Students: Enrollment numbers based on a federal formula that counts each part-time student as equivalent to one-third of a full-time student.

Graduate and Undergraduate Aid: The breakdown of aid between undergraduate and graduate students is estimated based on the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) when not available from other sources.

Loan Totals: Nonfederal loans from private lenders are included in Table 1 as an important source of funding for students, but are not considered financial aid because they provide no subsidy to students. Figures 1, 4A, 4B, 6, 8, 11A, 11B, 11C, 12A, and 12B include nonfederal loans to give a more complete picture of student borrowing. Figures 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B measure financial aid amounts and therefore exclude nonfederal loans.

Inflation Adjustment: The Consumer Price Index for all urban dwellers (CPI-U) is used to adjust for inflation. We use the CPI-U in July of the year in which the academic year begins. See the U.S. Department Of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index table for changes in the CPI-U over time.


Campus-Based Aid (FWS, Perkins, and FSEOG), Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and ACG/SMART Grants: U.S. Department of Education, Annual Federal Program Databooks.

Cumulative Debt for Undergraduate Students: Distribution of cumulative debt levels reported in Figure 11C comes from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, 2009. Average debt levels reported in Figures 10A and 10B are based on the Annual Survey of Colleges, 2001 to 2013.

Education Tax Benefits: Income Tax Returns, All Returns, Tables 1.3, 1.4, 2, and 3.3 and additional Statistics of Income sources.

Federal Family Education Loan and Direct Student Loan Programs: Unpublished data from Policy, Budget, and Analysis Staff, U.S. Department of Education, and the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

Federal Student Loan Program Cohort Default Rates (CDR): Data reported on annual default rates in Figures 12B and 12C are from the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid, Default Prevention and Management

Federal Student Loan Program Repayment Data: Based on data published by the U.S. Department of Education. Only Federal Direct Loans in a specified repayment plan are included in Figure 12A.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Enrollment: Based on unpublished computations by Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) staff at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), as well as unpublished IPEDS data.

Institutional Grants: Estimates based on IPEDS data through FY 2010, information from NPSAS, and data from the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges. These figures represent best approximations and are updated each year as additional information becomes available.

State Grant Programs: 2012-13: Estimates based on an annual College Board survey of all states. 1988-89 to 2011-12: 20th through 43rd Annual Survey Reports of the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP).

Military: Estimates based on available data from F. Edward Hebert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program amounts from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Defense (Health Affairs). ROTC program data from the Air Force, Army, and Navy/Marines program offices.

Nonfederal Loans: Estimates for 2010-11 through 2012‑13 provided by the Consumer Bankers Association, MeasureOne, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Earlier data based on information provided by lenders supplemented by data from annual reports and from NPSAS, 2008. Data on lending also collected from the major credit unions and their associations. Estimates of institutional lending are based on NPSAS, 2008 and 2012, as well as a survey of institutions conducted for the College Board by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). Data on loans from states are based on information collected from staff of state-sponsored private loan programs or state grant agencies, in addition to NASSGAP.

Other Grants and Loans: Data collected through conversations and correspondence with the officials of the agencies that sponsor the programs.

Pell Grant Program: Data from Policy, Budget, and Analysis Staff, U.S. Department of Education. Other data are from Federal Pell Grant End-of-Year Reports and from the Federal Student Aid Data Center.

Private and Employer Grants: Estimates based on data included in NPSAS and on National Scholarship Providers Association surveys of major private student grant providers, supplemented by information from annual reports of selected scholarship providers and data from institutional financial aid offices.

State Savings Plans: Data on assets in state savings plans and guaranteed tuition plans were provided by the National Association of State Treasurers/College Savings Plans Network.

Veterans Benefits: Benefits Program series (annual publication for each fiscal year), Office of Budget and Finance, U.S. Veterans Administration and unpublished data from the same agency.