Research Roundup - Focus on the Financial Aid Gap
We are pleased to share the fifth edition of NPEA Eyes on the Field , offering members a snapshot of the latest news, resources, and research in the field of educational access and success. A reflection of our commitment to NPEA Data Counts, we hope this member benefit supports you in accessing information you need to best support the students, families, and communities you serve.

Have you come across a recent research report that you think would be helpful to share with the NPEA community? Please share your ideas, suggestions, and resources by completing the member updates form.
Overview of The Financial Aid System:

Bridget Terry-Long and Erin Riley, Harvard Educational Review
Spring 2007
"Our analysis documents the significant amount of unmet financial need faced by many students - particularly students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. Despite the billions of dollars provided in grants and loans by the  federal government, states, institutions, and private sources, many students  are left with the dilemma of how to make up the difference between their  available resources (including aid packages and family contributions) and the  cost of their educations."
Susan Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton, The Future of Children
Spring 2013
"The evidence...clearly shows that lowering costs can improve college access and completion. But this general rule is not without exception. First, the complexity of program eligibility and delivery appears to moderate the impact of aid on college enrollment and persistence after enrollment. Second, for students who have already decided to enroll, grants that tie financial aid to academic achievement appear to boost college outcomes such as persistence more than do grants with no strings attached. Third, compared with grant aid, relatively little rigorous research has been conducted on the effectiveness of student loans."
"Despite research strongly linking need-based grant aid to access, we have instead allowed a system to flourish in which need-based aid covers less and less of the cost of college. Despite ambiguity in whether or not loans provide more benefit than harm to college access and completion, we have forced more students to borrow...And despite bipartisan rhetoric around closing attainment gaps among students of color and low-income students, we have created a system in which more underrepresented students take on debt and drop out with debt, thereby saddling communities of color and those with modest means with...disadvantages as they enter the workforce."
Financial Aid and College Persiste nce:

The Journal of Higher Education
March 2010
"This study also identified distinct impacts of financial aid on college student dropout risks across different student sub-groups. An important finding from this study is that financial aid has differential effects on student dropout risks across racial groups. Among non-grant recipients, minority students tend to have higher risks of dropping out...However, when they receive larger Pell Grants, minority students (especially Asian students) have lower dropout risks."
Sara Goldrick-Rab, Douglas N. Harris, Robert Kelchen, James Benson
October 2012
"Financial aid has long been evaluated for its effectiveness at promoting college attendance...Need-based financial grants are a popular mechanism with which to lower [the growing] costs [associated with college attendance]. In this analysis, we provide new evidence that in doing so they are modestly effective at inducing students to remain enrolled, earn slightly more credits, and get somewhat better grades - and that these effects are likely stronger when students receive more aid."
Journal of Student Financial Aid
January 2010
This article provides a literature review of recent research about financial aid and students finishing college, and notes: "These studies suggest that evaluation and possible reform is in order for American postsecondary access and retention policies. In the light of the existing research, it is unwise and inefficient to assume that the removal of financial access barriers is sufficient opportunity for low socioeconomic status and/or first-generation students...[T]here are other avenues that 4-year colleges can pursue to improve the retention of at-risk students."
Financial Aid in the News:

General Resources on Financial Aid:

Financial Aid Letters: After the College Acceptance. 2018 NPEA Webinar Series. MEFA.

Types of Aid. Federal Student Aid: An Office of the U.S. Department of Education.

Understanding Your Student Financial Aid Award Letter. Mass.Gov

It is recommended to look for specific resources about financial aid for the state in which the student resides as well as federal options.
Mission: NPEA connects the people, practices, and innovations essential for eliminating barriers to educational access and college and career success for underserved students.
The perspectives, recommendations, and/or opinions shared in the research and/or publications included in this email are attributed solely to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NPEA.
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