Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership


College student persistence has been one o f the most important topics discussed in higher education over the last 25 years. The consequences of student attrition from our colleges and universities are immense for the individual student and institutions alike. One of the purposes of student financial aid is to promote student persistence. The need for empirical research to assess whether financial aid is accomplishing this vital purpose is critical Research is particularly important given the significant shifts in policy brought on by the 1992 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. This study addressed two research questions. The first deals with the relationship between financial aid and freshman persistence. Is there evidence that any of the financial aid variables in the study relate to freshman persistence? If so. what is the nature of that relationship? The second question asks if a model can be developed to predict freshman persistence at the Midwestern liberal arts college using the variables in the study. The subjects of the study (N = 1.208) consisted of five cohorts of first-time, full-time freshmen enrolling in foil 1994 through foil 1998. The college is a private, liberal arts institution with a traditional undergraduate enrollment of 1000. The dependent variable, persistence, signified whether a student completed two semesters of full-time course work during their freshman year and re-enrolled the following fall. Independent variables included gender, residency, ACT composite score and 10 financial aid variables. The study revealed a relationship between several of the financial aid variables and freshman persistence. The study found that students with lower expected family income and higher unmet need were less likely to persist. This means that the receipt of financial aid alone is not adequate to overcome the effects of a low family income on persistence. The nature and strength of the relationship was difficult to determine due to high correlation between the financial aid variables and prior academic achievement as measured by the ACT composite score. The study was unable to develop a logistic regression model to predict freshman persistence using the variables of the study.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access