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ERIC Number: ED555370
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Dec
Pages: 46
Abstractor: As Provided
Pell Grants as Performance-Based Aid? An Examination of Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements in the Nation's Largest Need-Based Aid Program. A CAPSEE Working Paper
Schudde, Lauren; Scott-Clayton, Judith
Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment
The Federal Pell Grant Program is the nation's largest need-based grant program. While students' initial eligibility for the Pell is based on financial need, renewal of the award is contingent on their making satisfactory academic progress (SAP)--meeting minimum academic standards similar to those proposed in models of performance-based scholarships. It is not clear how many students are affected by failure to meet SAP standards, or how the policies shape student outcomes. In this study, we draw from literature on performance-based funding and academic probation to consider the potential implications of SAP standards. We describe federal guidelines and illustrate how SAP is evaluated in a statewide community college system. Using administrative data with term-by-term measures of Pell receipt, student grades, attempted and earned credits, persistence, degree attainment, and transfer, we employ regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences approaches to examine the magnitude of SAP failure and its effects. Our results suggest that a substantial portion of Pell recipients at community colleges are at risk for Pell ineligibility due to their failure to meet SAP grade point average (GPA) or credit completion requirements. Approximately a quarter fail to meet the GPA standard alone. When the credit completion requirement is taken into consideration, the first-year SAP failure rate approaches 40 percent. Our preferred difference-in-differences estimates show mixed effects of SAP standards: Failing to meet the GPA requirement has a negative impact on persistence into the second year, but it may improve associate degree attainment and transfer among students who are not discouraged from reenrolling. The following are appended: (1) Regression Discontinuity Results; and (2) Difference-in-Differences Results.
Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment. Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street Box 174, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212.678.3091; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Institute of Education Sciences (ED)
Authoring Institution: Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE)
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Pell Grant Program
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305C110011