Federal student aid is financial assistance provided through grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans to students for their educational expenses. This can include costs such as tuition, housing, transportation, books, and supplies. Loans comprise approximately 73% of the total aid to students, making them the largest source of assistance from the federal government. Although student aid includes the $11.6 billion investment made through the G.I. Bill of Rights, it is not included in this analysis because we were not able to make a direct connection between that investment and the benefits given to an institution.
A federal grant is an agreement through which a federal agency provides financial assistance to an individual or organization used for projects and expenses that contribute to public good. For example, in 2018, the Department of Commerce funded the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s (UMBC) research for measuring and improving the robustness of deep learning algorithms.
A federal contract is an agreement in which the federal government purchases a good or service from an organization or individual for government use. For example, in 2018 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration used a federal contract to pay the California Institute of Technology to operate the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This laboratory is a center for robotic exploration of the solar system that carries out essential research and tasks like developing a self-directed spacecraft.
1Financial obligations represent outstanding debt or regular payments to another party. A negative value obligation (de-obligation) results from a transaction that lowers the debt amount. A grant or contract has a negative obligation for a given fiscal year when it spans multiple fiscal years and the sum of the transactions for that particular fiscal year was a net reduction of the original obligation.
2Due to the way military academies are funded, they have not been included in this analysis.