The Role of Merit and Need in Student Financial Aid

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The Role of Merit and Need in Student Financial Aid

Project Leads

Jonathan Reischl

Project Assistant, WISCAPE
University of Wisconsin-Madison

William Reese

Carl F. Kaestle WARF Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Funded by a grant from the Spencer Foundation, this study examines the relationship between financial aid awards and the background characteristics of college students.

In analyzing data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS), produced and managed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), project researchers will use econometric and statistical techniques to identify the role that merit and need play in determining the financial aid package offered to incoming college students. NCES conducts the survey every three to four years, and this project will utilize data from 1993, 1996, 2000, and 2004. The dataset provides detailed information on the financial and social backgrounds of the survey respondents, as well as their academic achievements, test scores, and their financial aid packages from their respective colleges.

The Spencer grant funds a WISCAPE project assistant position for Jonathan Reischl, a graduate student in the UW–Madison Department of History. With this project, he continues previous research he conducted with Spencer Foundation President Michael McPherson. William Reese, UW–Madison professor of history and educational policy studies, supervises Reischl’s work. WISCAPE is providing office space and resources for the project.

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