Ranking the States on Their 10-Year Performance in Increasing Need-Based Financial Aid for Low-Income College Students

The College Board reports that during the 1998 to 2008 period the average price of college increased by 72 percent. The good news is that during the same time period, state governments have increased their allocations for need-based financial aid by an even larger 109 percent.

But given that in many states need-based aid was grossly inadequate a decade ago, increases in state aid, in most cases, are still insufficient to satisfy the need of all low-income students who aspire to higher education. And given that blacks are three times as likely to be poor as white students, the inadequacy of state need-based grant programs falls particularly hard on African Americans.

According to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, the largest percentage increase in need-based aid occurred in Montana. In 1998 the state offered only $460,000 in need-based grants. In 2008 Montana gave out more than $4.3 million in need-based financial aid. Delaware had the second-largest percentage increase in need-based awards. Texas’ need-based grants increased from $66 million to more than $537 million during the period. This was the third-largest percentage increase.

Three states actually offered lower dollar amounts of need-based grants in 2008 than they did a decade earlier. These states are Hawaii, Wyoming, and Michigan.