Racial Differences in Financial Aid Awards

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education finds that in the 2019-20 academic year, immediately before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 71.5 percent of all undergraduate college students received some type of financial aid. Nearly 64 percent received grants and 36 percent took out loans.

For Black students, 80.6 percent received some sort of financial aid compared to 70.4 percent of White students. Nearly 74 percent of Black students received grants compared to 61 percent of White students. Nearly 49 percent of Black students took out loans compared to 38.2 percent of Whites.

Just over 24 percent of Black undergraduate students received grants from the educational institution that they attended, compared to more than 30 percent of White students. Blacks were more likely than Whites to receive grants from the federal government by a large margin of 59.9 percent for Blacks and 32.6 percent for Whites. Blacks also were more likely than Whites to receive grants from the state government. But the difference was far smaller than at the federal level.

The average federal grant given to Blacks was $4,300 compared to $4,100 for Whites. The average grant from the institution they attended for Whites was $1,200 more than the average grant given to Blacks. The average loan amounts were $22,600 for Black students and $25,900 for Whites .

At the graduate level, Whites were slightly more likely than Blacks to receive grants but the average grant to Whites was $1,900 more than the average grant to Blacks. Nearly 11 percent of White graduate students were graduate assistants compared to 7.6 percent of Black graduate students. More than 60 percent of Black graduate students took out loans compared to 41 percent of Whites.


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