How Much Money Can You Get from the FAFSA?

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Mark Kantrowitz

By Mark Kantrowitz

May 1, 2024

Figuring out how to pay for college can be challenging. If you’re like most students, you probably won’t be able to cover the costs with savings and scholarships alone. You might be wondering “how much financial aid will I get?”

The amount of money you can get by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) depends on your financial need. But, the maximum amount can be in the low tens of thousands of dollars per year. Average amounts are about $9,000, with less than half of that in the form of grants. 

This table shows the maximum and average amounts for various types of federal student aid for undergraduate students for 2020-2021. Average amounts have been rounded to the nearest multiple of $10.

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Average and maximum financial aid

Type of Aid
Average Amount
Maximum Amount (2024-25)
Federal Pell Grant
Federal Direct Stafford Loan
$5,800 (dependent)
$7,630 (independent)
$5,500 to $7,500 (dependent)
$9,500 to $12,500 (independent)
Federal Work-Study
No maximum
$4,000 (90th percentile)
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
Total Federal Student Aid
$13,120 (dependent)
$14,950 (independent)
$20,895 to $22,895 (dependent)
$24,895 to $27,895 (independent)
Total Federal Grants

However, there are interaction effects between the amounts of the various types of awards. Based on data from the 2015-2016 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16), the actual average total federal student aid and actual average federal grants are lower than shown in the previous table. 

This table shows the average amounts of federal aid, the percentages receiving federal aid and the 90th percentile amounts of federal aid among undergraduate students who filed the FAFSA.

Financial aid recieved

Type of Aid
Average Amount
Percent Receiving
90th Percentile
Total Federal Student Aid
$9,010 (dependent)
$8,070 (independent)
58.8% (dependent)
50.1% (independent)
$18,275 (dependent)
$16,275 (independent)
Total Federal Grants
$4,150 (dependent)
$3,580 (independent)
37.3% (dependent)
42.1% (independent)
$5,999 (dependent)
$5,775 (independent)

These figures do not include military student aid, state aid and institutional aid. They also do not include the Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan, which is available up to the full cost of attendance minus other aid, and the TEACH Grant, which provides up to $4,000 per year to students who commit to pursuing teaching careers in national need areas. 

If you don’t receive enough financial aid to pay for college, you might consider taking out a student loan. Interest rates on private student loans vary, so be sure to compare lenders before you borrow.

See also:

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