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PEDAR: Research Methodology  What Colleges Contribute: Institutional Aid to Full-Time Undergraduates Attending 4-Year Colleges and Universities
Executive Summary
Research Methodology
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Executive Summary (PDF)

1Institutional aid includes both need-based and merit-based aid.(return to text)

2In addition to academic scholarships, merit aid includes athletic and other merit scholarships. Merit aid is included in the total aid awards previously discussed and shown in figure 2. (return to text)

3Levels of academic merit were based on an index incorporating three academic measures: college entrance exam scores, degree of high school curriculum difficulty, and high school grade-point average (GPA). (return to text)

4Levels of financial need were based on the student budget reported by the institution (which includes the cost of tuition, books, and transportation, plus living expenses) after subtracting the expected family contribution (EFC) and government grant aid (both federal and state). This is the amount that institutions typically take into account before committing their own funds. This definition differs from the federal need definition, which is student budget minus EFC. (return to text)

5Institution selectivity was based on the SAT or equivalent ACT scores of entering students. Institutions where at least 75 percent of entering students scored above 1000 on the SAT were considered “very selective.” All others were identified as “less selective.” (return to text)

6In public less selective institutions, the difference between the percentages of students with no need and high need who received institutional grant aid appeared to be different (44 vs. 66 percent), but because of large standard errors for high-merit students with high need, there was not enough statistical evidence to confirm the difference. (return to text)

7The aid amounts for high-merit students with high need and low need appear to be different (51 vs. 41 percent of tuition), but there was not enough statistical evidence to confirm the difference. (return to text)

8For example, 88 percent of high-merit aided students in very selective private not-for-profit institutions were still enrolled, as were 81 percent of comparable unaided students, a difference that is not statistically significant. (return to text)

9Institutional grant aid receipt was only known for the first year of enrollment. The relationship discussed here is whether students received institutional aid in their first year and then persisted in the awarding institution for 6 years. (return to text)

10While the analysis controlled for observable student characteristics that might be related to persistence, it is possible that unobservable characteristics are related both to the receipt of institutional aid and persistence. For example, an institution might be more likely to give aid to students it perceives as more likely to succeed over students with comparable merit and need. (return to text)