How Much Money Can You Get from the FAFSA?
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By Mark Kantrowitz

September 24, 2020

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.

Type of AidAverage AmountMaximum Amount
Federal Pell Grant$4,310$6,345
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$2,340No maximum
$4,000 (90th percentile)
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant$670$4,000
Total Federal Student Aid$13,120 (dependent)
$14,950 (independent)
$19,845 to $21,845 (dependent)
$23,845 to $32,345 (independent)
Total Federal Grants$4,980$10,345

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.

Type of AidAverage AmountPercent Receiving90th 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. 

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