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ERIC Number: ED556245
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Feb
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 19
For Whom the Pell Tolls: How Financial Aid Policies Widen the Opportunity Gap
Tarasawa, Beth; Dahlin, Michael
Northwest Evaluation Association
This report describes the findings from a series of descriptive analyses seeking to understand the potential relationship between college access and school poverty for high-achieving middle school students, focusing specifically on potential access to state merit-based grant funding. Researchers monitored the academic achievement of more than 17,000 high-achieving middle school students from 31 states across the country, using their eighth grade performance on a nationally administered assessment of academic achievement to make projections about their likely status to meet Pell Grant eligibility criteria four years later. Of particular interest are comparisons that examined the differences in likely eligibility rates between high- and low-poverty schools. The achievement gaps between high achievers in low- and high-poverty schools are likely to have a significant effect on college access. The findings in this report demonstrate that students attending high-poverty schools had far lower rates of scholarship eligibility than the students attending low-poverty schools, and the gaps in eligibility generally increased as the ACT[R] eligibility score was raised. The manner in which merit-based eligibility criteria are currently applied reduces the likelihood that high achievers from high-poverty schools will enjoy college access. Consequently, there is need to revise or augment these eligibility criteria to narrow the access gaps between high achieving students who attend high- and low-poverty schools. Moving merit-scholarship eligibility from fixed criteria based on college entrance exams and GPA to criteria that recognize high achievement in one's own school setting would be a large step toward improving equity and access for the top tenth percentile that come from low-income schools. [See the companion report: "A Level Playing Field? How College Readiness Standards Change the Accountability Game" in ERIC at ED556243.]
Northwest Evaluation Association. 121 NW Everett Street, Portland, OR 97209. Tel: 503-624-1951; Fax: 503-639-7873; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools; Grade 8; Elementary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Northwest Evaluation Association
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Pell Grant Program
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: ACT Assessment