There is a record number of college bound students for the 2011-2012 academic year and applications for financial aid are up roughly 20% due the current economic challenges facing so many families today. The federal government and private institutions realize now is not the time to be cutting financial aid. As a result, schools are attempting to preserve that pool of aid dollars through hiring freezes and keeping admissions growth in check.
There are some schools that cut back on merit aid and reallocate to students that require need based aid. In addition, the federal government increased the maximum amount of a Pell Grant award by 13%, from $4,731 to $5,350 for the 2011-2012 school year. However, as stated above there’s more competition for those dollars, both federal and institutional. Bottom line, there is an estimated $144B of federal, state and institutional aid for the 2011-2012 academic year and the competition for those dollars has been fierce. Expect the same for the 2012-2013 year.