Clearing the Path: Delivering Financial Aid to Community College Students

Open Access
Frick Cardelle, Rachel Alissa
Graduate Program:
Higher Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 25, 2013
Committee Members:
  • John Jesse Cheslock, Dissertation Advisor
  • John Jesse Cheslock, Committee Chair
  • Liang Zhang, Committee Member
  • Leticia Oseguera, Committee Member
  • Aaron Wachhaus, Committee Member
  • Gerald K Letendre, Committee Member
  • Donald E Heller, Special Member
  • Financial aid
  • community college
  • higher education
  • education
Low- and middle-income students at public, two-year institutions too often do not apply for college financial aid (Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, 2008; Kantrowitz, 2009a, 2011). This research first examines national data to identify what the risk factors are for not applying and compares those risk factors for students at public, two-year institutions to students at public, four-year institutions. Using this national data as a reference point the study then uses a single case study approach at one public, two-year institution to explore: 1) the policies and practices within the institutional environment that influence application rates, and 2) the factors in the extra-institutional environment that impact the institution's financial aid environment. The national data show that for public, two-year college students speaking to a counselor about financial aid is the most critical factor in whether or not they apply. It also suggests that part-time students, Asian students and males are at higher risk than other student groups for not applying for financial aid. The case study suggests that there are important environmental factors at public, two-year colleges inhibiting application rates that national level data are not reporting. Some of those environmental factors include that: 1) the open access mission that allows late enrollment is not compatible with federal financial aid deadlines, and 2) the movement towards simplification in the financial aid application process at the national level has led to complications at the local level that potentially threaten those most in need of financial aid.