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As State Student Aid Spending Plateaus, Need-based Grants Get A Boost

States last year doled out roughly the same amount of student aid money in 2012-13 as they did the previous year, but they increased the share of money flowing to students based on financial need, according to a new survey published Monday.

The annual survey, conducted by the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, found that although the top-line number of state aid — $11.28 billion — actually declined just slightly from the previous year when adjusting for inflation, states collectively boosted their investment in need-based grant aid.

States increased their spending on need-based grant aid by 3.5 percent in the 2012-13 academic year, while non-need-based grant aid declined by 2.1 percent. In inflation-adjusted dollars, states reduced their spending on aid with a merit component to $3.98 billion last year from $4.02 billion the previous year.