Student loans in the United States are a form of financial aid used to help more students access higher education. Student loan debt has been growing rapidly since 2006, rising to nearly $1.4 trillion by late 2016, roughly 7.5% GDP. Approximately 43 million have student loans, with an average balance of $30,000. Loans usually must be repaid, in contrast to other forms of financial aid such as scholarships, which never have to be repaid, and grants, which only rarely have to be repaid. Research indicates the increased usage of student loans has been a significant factor in college cost increases.