Study: College Students Miss Out on $2.7 Billion in Financial Assistance
1-in-5 Students Did Not Apply for Financial Aid
New York, NY — College is not cheap, but there is still a sizable portion of students who decide not to get financial aid.
On Tuesday, the National Center for Educational Statistics published a report titled Undergraduates Who Do Not Apply for Financial Aid. Using data from the 2011-2012 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, the report showed that 20% of undergraduate students did not apply for any financial aid in the academic year. (Source: “Undergraduates Who Do Not Apply for Financial Aid,” National Center for Education Statistics, August 2, 2016.)
The percentage differs across different types of schools. Among those in public two-year institutions, 30% did not apply for financial aid in 2011–2012. In public four-year institutions, 18% did not apply for any aid. Eleven percent of students in private nonprofit four-year institutions did not apply for any aid, while only five percent did not apply for financial aid in for-profit schools.
Note that across all types of institutions, the most common reason cited by students for not applying for financial aid was that they thought they were ineligible. Forty-four percent of students who did not apply for any aid indicated their concern about eligibility.
The second most cited reason for not applying for financial aid is that they could afford college without it, at 43%. Thirty-three percent of respondents who did not apply for financial aid said that they did not want debt, 13% said they had no information on how to apply, while nine percent said it was too much work to fill out the application forms.
This report offers the latest insights into the unclaimed student aid money phenomenon. Earlier this year, a study by NerdWallet suggested that in 2014, high school graduates missed out as much as $2.7 billion in free federal grant money. NerdWallet’s analysis showed that more than 1.4 million high school graduates didn’t fill out a FAFSA application. Among those, more than 740,000 would have earned federal Pell Grant money if they had applied. (Source: “How Students Missed Out on $2.7 Billion in Free FAFSA College Aid,” NerdWallet, January 27, 2016.)