Total Grant Aid by Source over Time

The total amount of grant aid supporting postsecondary students increased by 86% between 1996-97 and 2006-07 (after adjusting for inflation) and by another 74% between 2006-07 and 2016-17, reaching a total of $125.4 billion.

Figure 3: Total Grant Aid in 2016 Dollars by Source of Grant, 1996-97 to 2016-17

Figure 3 represents Total Grant Aid in 2016 Dollars by Source of Grant, 1996-97 to 2016-17 . For a corresponding Section 508-compliant data table, download the Excel spreadsheet

Notes & Sources 

NOTE: Percentages may not sum to 100 because of rounding.

SOURCES: See Notes and Sources for a list of sources for grants included in Figure 3.

  • Federal grants fluctuated between 27% and 33% of all grant aid for undergraduate and graduate students between 1996-97 and 2006-07. This share rose to 44% in 2010-11, but it had declined to 32% of the total in 2016-17.
  • Total federal grant aid more than doubled between 2006-07 and 2011-12—from $19.9 billion (in 2016 dollars) to $47.3 billion (as full-time equivalent [FTE] enrollment rose by 18%). Over the next five years, federal grant aid declined by 15% in inflation-adjusted dollars to $40.2 billion (as FTE enrollment fell by 6%).
  • Institutional aid is the only type of grant aid that grew rapidly between 2011-12 and 2016-17. Colleges and universities increased their aid by 32%, from $44.4 billion (in 2016 dollars) in 2011-12 to $58.7 billion in 2016-17. Over these five years, federal grant aid declined and grant aid from states, employers, and other private sources increased by less than 10%.