Term of Award

Spring 1998

Degree Name

Masters of Education

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Leadership, Technology and Human Development

Committee Chair

Dale Grant

Committee Member 1

Alexander chew

Committee Member 2

Cordelia Douzenis


Financial aid offices exist in virtually every postsecondary institution in the United States. They disburse money to students in a variety of methods, including scholarships and grants with no repayment requirements, and various loans with payback responsibilities varying in terms of time, rate of interest, and who pays. Institutions use financial aid funds for multiple purposes — to attract highly qualified students, to attract students to specific programs, and to assist students who would not otherwise be able to attend. Thus, financial aid and student enrollment are closely related.

Over the last 40 years, the primary purpose of financial aid has been to remove economic barriers so that the probability of dropping out of college for financial reasons is reduced (Murdoch, 1995). Prior to World War II, financial aid was in the form of merit-based scholarships given or granted from the funds of an individual college (Hughes, 1990). When the National Defense Education Act was implemented in 1958, the concept of "need analysis" was operationalized (Gibbons, 1996). The need analysis system, which assigns primary responsibility for financing higher education to the family, evolved as a way to equitably allocate federal funds. This was later expanded by the Higher Education Act of 1965, which introduced programs designed to assist the poor, such as College Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (Hughes, 1990). Federal student financial assistance has shifted from being mostly grants to mostly loans since the late 1970s (Blanchette. 1994).

Since 1985, federal loan aid nationwide has been about twice as much as grant aid each year. Because of recent trends in financial aid, it is important for financial aid officers to periodically assess service delivery. In recent years, the competition for student enrollment has been high, causing university administrators to be concerned that every aspect of student services be of the highest quality in order to attract students and maintain enrollment In satisfaction surveys conducted by institutions of higher education, financial aid services have been found to be negatively associated with overall satisfaction (Gibbons, 1996) As greater numbers of students apply for and receive financial aid, financial aid offices are often criticized as being harsh and uncaring about the needs of the students. Therefore, university administrators are very concerned about the relationship of financial aid to student satisfaction, enrollment, and persistence toward a degree.

Thus, the purpose of this study is to determine students' perceptions of services offered by the Financial Aid Office at Georgia Southern University and identify the factors associated with student perception. Furthermore, this study seeks to find out which types of students are the most satisfied with financial aid services, as well as which students are the least satisfied. Results will be used to help guide financial aid administrators in improving their financial aid services.


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