Analysis: Half of USHE students receive gift aid – 1 in 5, tuition & fees are fully covered

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 $4,680 per studentapproximately 75% of the average tuition and fees at institutions in the Utah System of Higher Education for 2014-15. “Gift aid” is funds for students that do not need to be repaid, most commonly scholarships and grants (e.g. Pell grants, tuition waivers).

A recent analysis by the Institutional Research team of the Commissioner’s Office of 129,092 student records from 2014-15 of Utah resident undergraduate USHE students (excluding concurrent enrollment and non-matriculated students) looked at the impact gift aid on total cost and the association with course load.

Of all USHE undergraduate students, 21.5% (with less than 30 attempted hours) had 100% of base tuition and fees covered by grant aid. This number increases to 33.3% for students who attempted 30 or more credits during the academic year.

Average Gift Aid by Institution

Percentage of Students who Receive Financial Aid (Gift Aid, Loans, or both)

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 Bachelor’s degree typically requires a student to attend full-time for 4 years, enrolled in at least 30 credits per year (e.g 15 credits/semester). Students who enrolled in 30 credits or more in 2014-15 received a higher average amount of aid (+53%). In fact, 1/3 of students taking 30 credits or more received gift aid that exceeded their total tuition and fees.

Percentage of Students Receiving Gift Aid, By Course Load

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 relationship between course load and the amount of gift aid receives that can significantly reduce the true cost of attending college and assist students towards timely completion of a degree.

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