Impact of federal student aid on completion rates in the California Community Colleges system

The purpose of this study was to determine the overall impact of student aid, the level of impact of federal grants and loans, and identify any correlation between the price of attendance and federal student aid (FSA). Completion rates in the California Community Colleges (CCC) system was the dependent variable and measurement of impact. This nonexperimental quantitative study used existing data from cohorts in academic years 2000 through 2006 from Title IV institutions within the CCC system. Several findings emerged from this study including: 1. A significant population access student aid and completion rates increase with the average award amount; 2. completion is not supported when fewer students access student aid and affordability from lower fees causes an increase in the student population; 3. the population accessing federal grant aid provide accountability in completion, but not federal student loans; 4. students attending the CCC system access federal grants more, but there has been a gradual shift to federal loans; and 5. a statistically significant relationship between price of attendance and the average amount awarded through federal grants and loans positively impact completion rates. Since there is a dearth of knowledge on completion rates and accountability of FSA these findings are significant. As the costs associated with enrollment in higher education continue to rise the role of FSA has become an increasingly important topic of concern. Findings and recommendations from this study can be used as a tool for policymakers and educational leaders to make informed decisions about FSA funding. This analysis of accountability systems and affordability addresses equity in not only access, but also success in the CCC system.