• August 27, 2014

More Students Are Applying and Qualifying for Need-Based Financial Aid, Survey Finds

More students are applying and qualifying for need-based financial aid this year, and more of them are appealing their financial-aid awards, according to the results of a survey released Wednesday by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

The "Institutional Aid Survey" by the association, known as Nasfaa, found that 61 percent of financial-aid offices saw a 10-percent-or-greater increase in the number of financial-aid applications received for the 2009-10 award year, compared with the 2008-9 award year. An additional 28 percent reported an increase of less than 10 percent, and 8 percent reported no increase. Not all respondents answered each question.

Sixty-three percent of colleges reported their number of Pell Grant recipients has increased by more than 10 percent compared with last year, 25 percent reported an increase of less than 10 percent, and 5 percent reported no increase.

Nearly two-thirds of colleges saw an increase of at least 10 percent in the number of "professional judgments," situations in which students whose financial situations have changed ask the aid office to reconsider their awards.

Respondents also reported an increase in the number of students who still have financial need after receiving federal and state aid. More than half of respondents said that group had grown by 10 percent or more since last year. Twenty percent saw an increase of less than 10 percent, and 17 percent had no increase.

More than half of respondents said their college had increased institutional aid this year. Seventy-four percent of respondents at four-year colleges said their institutions had given more aid, while 71 percent of respondents at two-year colleges said their institutions had not.

The economic downturn, the Obama administration's efforts to inform the unemployed of financial-aid opportunities, and the enrollment growth reported by 72 percent of respondents all probably contributed to those findings, according to a report on the survey.

Administrators at nearly 500 financial-aid offices responded to the survey, which was conducted online September 1 through 8.

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