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As college costs rise, more get aid

WASHINGTON — With college costs continuing to rise, more students are receiving federal financial aid, though state and institutional aid remains largely flat.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show 71 percent of undergraduates got some type of financial aid in the 2011-12 school year, up from 66 percent four years earlier. Forty-two percent of students got federal grants, up from 28 percent, and 40 percent got federal loans, up 5 percentage points. Fifteen percent received state grants, and 20 percent got a grant from the college or university — figures that have remained essentially unchanged since 2007-08.

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Among full-time, dependent students, access to state grants actually declined, from 29 percent to 26 percent.

‘‘I think these last four years were very tough for states, and certainly we weren’t surprised,’’ said Jack Buckley, NCES commissioner.

On average, grant awards totaled $6,200, compared to $4,900 four years before. The biggest increase was in Pell Grants, which provide aid to low-income students: Forty-one percent of all undergraduates received a Pell Grant, up from 27 percent.

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