Trending Topic Research File: Financial Aid
Trending Topic Research File: Financial Aid
Financial Aid

Trending Research Topic File

Research supports the notion that financial aid can influence students’ postsecondary opportunities, decisions, and outcomes, but questions remain about the impact and optimal design of financial aid programs and policies.

The following compendium of open-access articles are inclusive of all substantive AERA journal content regarding financial aid published since 2010. This page will be updated as new articles are published. 

AERA Journal Articles

Note: Articles are listed below in reverse chronological order of publication. 

The Relationships Between State Higher Education Funding Strategies and College Access and Success
Robert Kelchen, Justin Ortagus, Kelly Rosinger, Dominique Baker, Mitch Lingo
Educational Researcher, November 2023
Researchers found no relationships between funding mechanisms and student outcomes at public universities, but found that at community colleges, funding strategies that combine base adjustments and enrollment or performance components may increase enrollment, but not completions.

“They Asked for More, More, and More Paperwork”: Administrative Burdens When Undocumented Youth Claim In-State Resident Tuition Policy Benefits
Andrea Briceno Mosquera
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, July 2023
Researchers found that undocumented youth navigate multifaceted contexts, including multiple rules at different organizational levels and interactions with admissions officers whose attitudes may facilitate or obstruct access.

How Well Do Students Understand “Free Community College”? Promise Programs as Informational Interventions
David B. Monaghan
AERA Open, April 2023
Reerchers found that students typically understood the program as simply “free college,” with little grasp of last-dollar structure or eligibility criteria.

How Did Colleges Disburse Emergency Aid During COVID-19? An Implementation Analysis of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
Elizabeth Bell, David Schwegman, Michael Hand, Michael DiDomenico
Educational Researcher, March 2023
Researchers found that disbursement policies varied along two dimensions: (1) whether they imposed burdens on students by requiring applications and proof of hardship and (2) whether they targeted needy students and varied the amount of aid according to need.

Meal Vouchers Matter for Academic Attainment: A Community College Field Experiment
Katharine M. Broton, Milad Mohebali, Sara Goldrick-Rab
Educational Researcher, February 2023
Researchers found that a relatively modest financial investment in campus meal cards coupled with proactive outreach by an existing campus office improved community college students’ academic attainment outcomes.

Financial Aid Nudges: A National Experiment With Informational Interventions
Lindsay C. Page, Bruce I. Sacerdote, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Benjamin L. Castleman
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, August 2022
Researchers found that the text outreach caused earlier FAFSA re-filing for some students. However, gains in re-filing during the active intervention period were not sustained after the intervention concluded and did not translate into additional federal financial aid or improved postsecondary persistence or attainment.

Functioning or Dysfunctioning? The Effects of Performance-Based Funding
Eunjong Ra, Jihyun Kim, Jiin Hong, Stephen L. DesJardins
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2022
Researchers found no effect in Tennessee, whereas bachelor’s degree completion may have a delayed positive effect in Ohio and Indiana. Interestingly, Indiana institutions funded based on performance increased their institutional selectivity immediately after the funding was enacted, whereas underrepresented students’ enrollment results differed among subgroups across states.

Broadened Possibilities: Undocumented Community College Student Course Enrollment After the California DREAM Act
Federick Ngo, Juanita K. Hinojosa
AERA Open, June 2022
Researchers found that state financial aid may have broadened postsecondary possibilities and made transfer to a 4-year institution a more viable option for undocumented students. At the same time, access to aid did not increase undocumented students’ credit loads to the level of their peers, underscoring the reality that other constraints continue to shape undocumented students’ participation in higher education.

The Effects of Losing Postsecondary Student Grant Aid: Results From a Systematic Review
Robin R. LaSota, Joshua R. Polanin, Laura W. Perna, Megan J. Austin, Rebecca R. Steingut, Melissa A. Rodgers
Educational Researcher, November 2021
With the goal of informing federal and state policy makers in a time of budget constraints, researchers used a systematic review methodology to identify and summarize findings from studies that examined the effects of losing grant aid due to policy changes and students’ failure to meet renewal requirements. 

If You Fund Them, Will They Come? Implications From a PhD Fellowship Program on Racial/Ethnic Student Diversity
Walter G. Ecton, Christopher T. Bennett, H. Kenny Nienhusser, Milagros Castillo-Montoya, Shaun M. Dougherty
AERA Open, September 2021
Researchers found that the fellowship increased the number of applicants overall, as well as the share of Black applicants and enrollees in impacted cohorts, with no significant effects on academic preparation.

Spending More or Spending Less? Institutional Expenditures and Staffing in the Free-College Era
Taylor K. Odle, Alex B. Monday
AERA Open, July 2021
Researchers found that institutions diverted expenditures away from instruction, academic support, and institutional support toward greater institutional grant awards. We find no meaningful impact on staffing levels. While some institutional actions may further support the access and success goals of promise programs, the diversity of programs across the nation suggests not all may follow suit.

The Impact of Merit Aid on College Choice and Degree Attainment: Reexamining Florida’s Bright Futures Program
Oded Gurantz, Taylor K. Odle
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, July 2021
Researchers found that eligibility slightly reduces 6-year associate degree attainment for lower socioeconomic status students and may induce small enrollment shifts among Hispanic and White students toward 4-year colleges.

How Have FAFSA Submissions Differed During COVID-19?
Oded Gurantz, Christopher Wielga 
Educational Researcher, February 2021
Researchers examined changes in California’s FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) applications during the COVID-19 crisis. They found that there was little change in applications for high school graduates due to an early deadline for state aid. 

The Hidden Costs of Corroboration: Estimating the Effects of Financial Aid Verification on College Enrollment
Jason C. Lee, Madison Dell, Manual S. González Canché, Alex Monday, Amanda Klafehn
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, February 2021
Researchers found that students selected for verification are 3.8 percentage points (4.9%) less likely to enroll in college with underserved populations and late Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filers most negatively affected.

Sign Me Up: The Factors Predicting Students’ Enrollment in an Early-Commitment Scholarship Program
Dan Goldhaber, Mark C. Long, Ann E. Person, Jordan Rooklyn, Trevor Gratz
AERA Open, June 2019
Researchers found that student characteristics associated with signing the scholarship pledge closely parallel characteristics of low-income students who attend 4-year colleges, suggesting that signing the pledge is driven largely by preexisting expectations of college going.

Understanding Loan Aversion in Education: Evidence from High School Seniors, Community College Students, and Adults
Angela Boatman, Brent J. Evans, Adela Soliz
AERA Open, January 2017
Researchers found that 20 and 40% of high school seniors exhibit loan aversion with lower rates among community college students and adults not in college. Women are less likely to express loan-averse attitudes than men, and Hispanic respondents are more likely to be loan averse than White respondents.

The First State Dream Act: In-State Resident Tuition and Immigration in Texas
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis December, 2017
The researcher found that foreign-born non-citizen Latino/a students were more likely to attend college after the introduction of the Texas in-state resident tuition policy.

Understanding the Promise: A Typology of State and Local College
Educational Researcher November, 2017
Researchers found that state- versus non-state sponsorship, financial award structure, type of postsecondary educational institutions at which awards may be used, and eligibility criteria are important differentiators among college programs. 

Understanding Loan Aversion in Education: Evidence from High School Seniors, Community College Students, and Adults
AERA Open January, 2017
Researchers examined the frequency of loan aversion in three distinct populations across the United States. 

Working for College: The Causal Impacts of Financial Grants on Undergraduate Employment
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis September, 2016
Researchers found that sudents from low-income families in Wisconsin offered additional grant aid were 5.88 percentage points less likely to work and worked 1.69 fewer hours per week than similar peers, an 8.56 percent and 14.35 percent reduction. 

Need-Based Aid and College Persistence: The Effects of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis May, 2015
The researcher found that students who beneffited from an Ohio state financial aid policy received awards about $800 higher than they would have received under a prior program.

The Impact of Institutional Grant Aid on College Choice
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis September, 2012
The researcher found that an additional $1,000 in institutional grant aid awarded by the typical sampled college increases the probability that the typical accepted student will choose that college by 1.66 percentage points. 

The Causal Effect of Federal Work-Study Participation: Quasi-Experimental Evidence From West Virginia
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis December, 2011
The researcher found no evidence that Federal Work-Study (FWS) participation improves academic outcomes. 

A Quasi-Experimental Investigation of How the Gates Millenium Scholars Program Is Related to College Students' Time Use and Activities
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis December, 2010
Researchers found that receiving a Gates scholarship reduces hours worked per week and influences high participation in volunteering activities and cultural events.