According to the College Board, which reports annually on changes in student aid and college costs, aid has actually been growing – a lot! By the Board’s numbers, between the 1994-95 and 2004-05 academic years, total inflation-adjusted federal student aid more than doubled, from $44.5 billion to $90.1 billion.
And that growth wasn’t only in loans, as student advocates often complain. Real Pell Grant funding rose from $7 billion to $13.1 billion, supplemental grants increased from $743 million to $771 million, work-study rose from $965 million to $1.2 billion, and federal tax benefits increased from nothing to more than $8 billion.
In fairness, just because total federal aid grew doesn’t necessarily mean that aid per-student rose. Maybe State PIRG members and twenty-something agitators still have a legitimate point. Or maybe not: Again, according to College Board data, between 1994-95 and 2004-05 inflation-adjusted grant aid per student from both federal and other sources ballooned 51 percent, from $2,965 to $4,479, and overall aid rose 61 percent, from $6,261 to $10,119.
Moreover, both grant and overall aid increases outpaced the growth in college costs.
Whether student aid is shrinking or increasing, a lot of that aid is in the form of student loans which need to be repaid at some point in the future. That is why I'm getting these finances in order early so that I don't have to worry about the situation in either case - I hope that many of you will join me.