State-by-state debt comparisons show that graduates in Delaware were stuck with highest amount of debt in 2014, almost 34,000 U.S. dollars on average. This may be due to the prevalence of high-cost, private institutions on the east coast. Utah and New Mexico had the lowest debt records at around 19,000 U.S. dollars. Many students try to avoid debt by applying for student aid. Federal loans provide the majority of financial aid, followed by grants coming from the educational institutions themselves.
In academic year 2015/16, around 28.23 billion U.S. dollars worth of Pell Grants were distributed to students across the United States. Pell Grants are distributed to students from low-income families to relieve some of the burden of educational costs, usually covering around 30 percent of total costs. These grants must not be paid back. Many find this program controversial, as middle class American families tend to earn too much money for their children to be eligible, while not earning enough to comfortably cover the cost of higher education.