The Differential Effects of Financial Aid on Degree Completion by Gender

Financial aid and student success are interrelated and essential components of strategic enrollment management. From an economic perspective, by reducing the price students pay, financial aid affects student demand for education. However, financial aid also has nonmonetary effects. For example, students receiving institutional scholarships may feel a sense of loyalty to and support from that institution, affecting their likelihood of remaining enrolled. Certainly, prior research (e.g., Dynarski 2008; St. John 1992) has shown that financial aid can have a positive effect on student persistence and graduation. However, whether pricing has a different relationship to graduation for men compared to women remains under researched. Yet, since 2004–2005, women have represented the majority of degree recipients at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree levels, and their proportions are expected to increase over the next 10 years (Digest of Education Statistics 2013). This study seeks to contribute to the literature in strategic enrollment management on pricing by focusing on gender and degree attainment. Distinct from prior studies (i.e., Dynarski 2008), we focus on multiple forms of aid (e.g., grants, loans). Specifically, this study asks, “To what extent does gender moderate the relationship between financial aid and degree completion?” We begin with review of the relevant literature on gender, pricing, and finances in postsecondary education.

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