Journal of Undergraduate Research


federal financial aid recipient, graduation, gender


Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Political Science


We analyze how being a federal financial aid recipient contributes to a person’s likelihood of graduation. We theorize that women who receive financial aid will be more likely to graduate than men who receive financial aid. This hypothesis can be viewed as a test of whether or not the economic development literature, which is primarily tested in Third World countries, may apply to First World settings. We also theorize that females who receive financial aid are more likely to graduate than both females and males who do not receive financial aid. We began by using the simplest model possible by regressing if a person had “completed degree/course of study” on gender. The results were statistically insignificant. Such a finding seemed odd as much of the current literature and data indicate that women are graduating at higher rates than men are (Executive Office of the President of the United States 2014). The simple answer to this is to look at the longitudinal data on graduation rates. This 1987 data fits into the time period where most data indicate that men and women graduated at statistically the same rate. The consistency between existing literature and data on graduation rates in 1987 works to support the claim that our data set, although limited, is valid. The lack of statistical difference in the gender variable in the simple model adds intrigue as it becomes significant in the simple model that tests our theory. In this logistic model, we added the interactive term of “Female and Any Aid.” Here, we see that women have statistically different logged odds of graduating or completing their study than men given they receive any financial aid. Additional models support the claim that women with financial aid graduate at higher rates than men do with financial aid. The simplest of these models shows that females receiving financial aid have an 84 percent likelihood of graduation, while males have a 78 percent likelihood of graduation. This 6 percent is statistically significant. Another model shows that after including all relevant controls, women receiving aid still have statistically significantly higher logged odds of graduating. Subsequent models only contain those that received financial aid, and control for how much aid was received and the total cost of one year of schooling, the gender variable becomes more telling of our theory. Every model except one shows that women have higher logged odds of graduating than men given that both are receiving the same amount of financial aid and their schooling costs the same.