Colleges See Higher Number of Students Enrolled and on Financial Aid, Study Says

Students enrolled in institutions of higher education increased by nearly one million, from 21 to 22 million, between the fall of 2009 and 2010, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Additionally, 82% of the 3.3 million first-time, full-time undergraduate students received financial aid, which is an increase of 3% from the 2008-09 academic year. Of the 3.3 million students, 53% borrowed from a state education loan program.

Data for the report, Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2010; Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2010; and Graduation Rates, Selected Cohorts, 2002-2007, was collected from more than 7,000 public and private institutions that receive federal Title IV funding. Along with looking at enrollment and financial aid, the report examines graduation rates and the average cost of attendance.


The average price before any financial aid at a public university was $16,873, but the net price fell to $10,175 once the average grant or scholarship aid was factored in. Students at private, non-profit institutions received $16,027 of financial aid, which is the most of any type of institution. The aid helped offset the average cost of attendance, which was $32,689. Students at private, for-profit schools received only $4,167 in aid, which brought the average cost of attendance down to $23,771. Students whose families are in the $0 to $30,000 income bracket received the most aid at public and for-profit universities, while students at non-profit schools in the $30,000 to $48,000 category received the most, according to the data.

Only 37% of first-time, full-time students who started at a four-year Title IV university earned a degree in four years. Meanwhile, 58% of these students finished their degree in six years. The rate of completion varies by the type of institution. Private, non-profit schools had the highest six-year graduation rate at 65.4%, followed by public schools at 56% and private, for-profit college at 28.4%.

The report also examined the finances of these schools. Public universities earned 19% of their revenue from tuition and fees, while it was 33% for non-profit and 91% for for-profit schools. Meanwhile, 30% of a public institution’s expenses went toward instruction on the four-year level, compared to 33% at non-profit and 21% at for-profit schools. One of the major differences between these types of institutions was the percentage of expenses that went toward academic support and student services. For-profit schools dedicated nearly 70% of their expenses to academic support, compared to 30% for non-profits and 21% for public schools.

To see the report in its entirety, click here.

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