Federal Student Aid Cheat Sheet

Over the past decades, student loans have skyrocketed. Over the last few years, however, so have student aid programs centering on grants. Here’s your cheat sheet on federal student aid. 

Federal Student Aid Cheat Sheetarrow
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Federal Student Aid provides more than $150 billion in grants, loans, and work study awards yearly

Helping 15 million+ students yearly
Attending College or career school
52% grants[9]
39% loans
9% tax credits, deductions, and work study

For graduate students:
30% grants
64% loans
6% tax credits, deductions, and work study

In the first half of last year 14 million+ students received aid.

Types of Aid:
Pell Grants
Teach Programs
Work-Study Programs


Top Pell Grant Receiving Institutions

5,400 participating institutions
Offer Federal Pell Grants to deserving low-income candidates
Pell Grants do not need to be repaid.

University of Phoenix
Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana
Miami Dade College
Inter American University of Puerto Rico
ITT Technical Institute
Arizona State University
Devry University
Liberty University
Houston Community College
Ashford University

Other Notable Institutions:

#13 Penn State
#20 Rutgers
#29 Georgia State
#34 UCLA

Top Work Study Schools

City University of New York
New York University
Columbia University
University of Southern California
Penn State
Devry University
ITT Technical Institute
University of Michigan
Inter American University of Puerto Rico
Cornell University

Over the past 40 years Federal Student Aid has Shifted Massively to Student Loans

Student Loans are Massive Business

The Federal Government holds or guarantees more than $1,000,000,000,000 in student debt
An increase of 20%+ since 2011
Compared to credit card debt of $857,000,000,000
That had an increase of 2% over the same period.

1/10 Federal Loans is in Default[5]

Types of Loans:[7]
[#type loan, outstanding balance]
Stafford Subsidized Loans: $255.3 billion
Stafford Unsubsidized Loans: $350.7 billion
Grad PLUS Loans: $37.8 billion
Parent PLUS Loans: $62.2 billion
Perkins Loans: $8.3 billion
Consolidated Loans: $373.6 billion

Direct Loans: Low-interest loans lent by the Department of Education and serviced by banks and outside servicers.
Federal Family Education Loans: Comprised of Stafford, PLUS, and Consolidated loans. No new loans made under this program.
Stafford (subsidized): Interest paid by government when student is in school, or during grace and deferment periods.
PLUS: Allows parents to borrow for their dependent undergraduate or graduate students.
Consolidation: A combination of more than one federal education loan.
Perkins Loans: A low-interest made by your school with government funds. Your undergraduate or graduate school pays a portion.

Repayment Options:

Fixed: Same payment for entirety of loan
–Up to 10 year loan term
Extended: A fixed rate over a longer period
–Extends fixed payments for 12 to 30 years.
Graduated: Gradual payment increases over time
–Monthly payment is 50%-150% of normal monthly plan.
–12-30 year loan term.
Income-Based: Payment amount determined by income
–Monthly payments capped as percentage of discretionary income.

Loan Balance vs. Maximum Loan Term:
[balance || max term]
<$7,500 10 years $7,500-$9,999 12 years $10,000-$19,999 15 years $20,000-$39,999 20 years $40,000-$59,999 25 years >$60,000 30 years

With many programs offering loan forgiveness after longer periods of time.

With only 1,200 employees, the Federal Student Aid office helps educate our entire nation.


  1. http://www.finaid.org/loans/repayment.phtml
  2. https://studentaid.ed.gov/about/data-center/student/application-volume/fafsa-school-state
  3. https://studentaid.ed.gov/about/data-center/student/portfolio
  4. https://studentaid.ed.gov/about/data-center/student/title-iv
  5. http://www.ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/attachments/060614DefaultRatesforCohortYears20072011.pdf
  6. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/student-debt-swells-federal-loans-now-top-a-trillion/
  7. https://studentaid.ed.gov/about/data-center/student/portfolio
  8. https://www2.ed.gov/programs/ffel/index.html
  9. https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/student-aid-2013-full-report.pdf