Gift aid a significant factor in assisting students towards degree completion

Scholarships and grants play a significant role in how students pay for college. 54% of USHE students who enrolled in both fall and spring semesters in 2014-15 received some form of gift aid, averaging $4,070.23 per studentroughly 75% of the average tuition and fees at institutions in the Utah System of Higher Education. “Gift aid” is funds for students that do not need to be repaid, most commonly scholarships and grants.

Average gift aid by institution

Percentage of students who receive gift aid, take student loans, both, or none

By comparison, 33% of USHE students took out a student loan. However, when combining the two sources of paying for college, almost 2/3 of USHE students (64%) either received gift aid, took out a loan, or a combination of the two:

Impact of course load

A college student must enroll in 30 credits/year to complete a typical bachelor’s degree within four years. Students who enrolled in 30 credits or more in 2014-15 (e.g. 15 credits/semester) received significantly more gift aid (+50%), as well as a higher average amount of aid (+53%). At many institutions students taking 30 credits or more, on average, received gift aid that exceeded the total tuition and fees.

Conversely, students who took less than 30 credits in 2014-15 were more than twice as likely to not have any financial assistance via gift aid or loans (39%) than those taking more than 30 hours (17%).

Sources of Financial Assistance (by average annual course load)

Students taking less than 30 credits           -vs.-         Students taking more than 30 credits


The true cost to attend college can vary depending on individual circumstances and involves several other costs beyond tuition and fees, including books/course materials, room and board, and transportation. However, there is a clear correlation between course load and gift aid. Ultimately, gift aid is a significant factor in keeping students on a successful and timely path to completion of a degree.

Media Inquiries

Trisha Dugovic
Communications Director