Pell Grants as Performance-Based Aid? An Examination of SAP Requirements in the Nation’s Largest ‘Need-Based’ Aid Program

Event: American Council on Education and SARA
Date: December 5, 2014

This presentation drew from literature on performance-based funding and academic probation to consider the potential implications of SAP policies on student outcomes. Lauren Schudde described federal guidelines and illustrated how SAP is evaluated in a statewide community college system. To understand the prevalence and effects of SAP failure, she used state administrative data with term-by-term measures of Pell receipt, student grades, and attempted and earned credits to take a closer look at SAP failure and patterns of early college persistence, degree attainment, and transfer. She elaborated on the results of the study, which suggest that a substantial portion of Pell recipients at community colleges are at risk for Pell ineligibility. Approximately a quarter fail to meet the GPA standard alone. After considering the credit completion requirement, the overall first-year SAP failure rate approaches 40 percent. The effects of SAP failure are mixed: failing to meet the SAP GPA requirement has a negative impact on persistence into the second year of college, but may improve associate degree attainment and transfer among students who are not discouraged from re-enrolling after failing to meet SAP early in their college career.


Lauren Schudde, CCRC and CAPSEE

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