One of the primary means of access to a university is financial aid in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships. After considering the academic reputation and door-opening opportunities, the offer of financial assistance is the next most important reason college freshmen cite in choosing to attend a particular university (HERI 2000). Despite a recent increase in student aid across the United States, many academically qualified low-income students still cannot afford to go to or stay in college (ACSFA 2001). In the last decade, the cost of college attendance has increased as a share of family income only among the lowest income students. Even after all possible sources of aid are exhausted, low-income students still have an average of $3,500 in unmet needs (ACSFA 2001).
Female undergraduates are more likely than male to receive financial aid (52 percent versus 47 percent in 1995/96); blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are more likely than whites and Asians to receive financial aid. (See appendix table 2-13.) The average amount of aid received in 1995/96, the most recent academic year for which data are available, was smaller for women than for men and smaller for blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians than for whites and Asians.
There were no statistically significant differences between students with and without disabilities in their receipt of financial aid in 1995/96: about half of both groups received financial aid. (See appendix table 2-5.)