Has Federal Student Aid Contributed to Equality in Higher Education?

A Method of Measurement



ABSTRACT. TO analyze the effect of federal student aid on the structure of the higher educational system, an index of inequality of access is developed It measures the differences in the distribution of income of entering students, as compared to the U S distribution of income at thirteen different categories of institutions Its application shows that structural inequality exists in the nation's system of higher education and that while some improvements occurred in the 1970s, especially at the bottom of the system, by 1986 most of these gains had been eliminated When these indices were regressed against per capita federal student financial aid, relative student costs, and variables reflecting changes in the larger economy, using time series data, the aid variables show little or no statistical effect on the structural inequality of the nation's system of higher education, as measured by the index of inequality On the other hand, the cost variable generally has strong effect The general economic variables occasionally have significant effect