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Persistence of first -generation low -income students receiving financial aid at a public regional New England university

Sonia Y Mihok, Johnson & Wales University


This study investigated the relationship between student financial aid and academic persistence of first-generation first-time, full-time freshmen enrolled in the fall 2002 semester at a regional state university in New England. For first-year freshmen the odds of persistence to the second year are low (approximately 50%)and are even lower for those who face the additional challenges of being the first in their family to attend an institution of higher education (Choy, 2002; Mortenson, 1998a). Financial aid and how to pay for college are considered to be decisive factors in whether or not first-generation students persist (Somers, 2000; St. John, 2002). This study explored the relationship of financial aid packages to the persistence to the second year of first-generation students (NCES, 1998b, 1998c, 1998d). Demographic, academic, and financial aid data on students in the fall 2002 cohort was collected from a university information database. The composition of financial aid packages comprised the independent variables and persistence was the dependent variable. St. John's modified finance and persistence model (Somers, & St. John, 1997) was followed, using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 10.0 to perform logistic regressions to identify the relationship between financial aid and persistence. The findings of this study were that cumulative grade point average was a highly statistically significant predictor of persistence. Being female, low-income and a borrower added to the probability of persistence, while students' first-generation status reduced the probability of persistence. Insufficient grant awards adversely affected student persistence in this study. These findings determined that composition of financial aid packages did relate to the persistence to the sophomore year of first-generation, low-income students. The results of the study can help financial aid officers and other policy makers develop more effective policies and financial aid packages for first-generation, low-income students, and thereby perhaps improve their persistence.

Subject Area

Higher education|School finance

Recommended Citation

Mihok, Sonia Y, "Persistence of first -generation low -income students receiving financial aid at a public regional New England university" (2005). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3177198.