Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Mixed Methods Exploration of Motivations behind Financial Institutional Aid
by Ianni, Danielle, Ph.D., University of Rochester, 2014, 233; 3621209
Abstract (Summary)

Institutional aid examined from the student and the institutional perspective has proven to have a tremendous impact on student choice and enrollment management. This dissertation explores the strategic uses of institutional aid from a selective private institution perspective and a student choice perspective simultaneously at one institution by asking the following research questions: What are the motivating forces behind institutional aid allocation and how do these motivating forces influence student and administrator action concerning aid and enrollment practices? How does the shifting dynamic of the student and institution relationship influence aid awards?

The researcher conducted a two-stage sequential mixed methods study; interviews were conducted with administrators in the enrollment management field and students from the same institution to gain a better understanding of the practices, motivators, and decision-making practices from both parties. The results from phase 1 were used to break down the enrollment process into five segments allowing the researcher to isolate decision-making processes at each stage by looking into the actions of the student and institution and how the two parties influenced each other throughout the process. The breakdown was guided by principal-agent theory, where the researcher argued that the role of principal and agent was bidirectional, inter-changing depending on the actions, motivating factors, and decision process of each segment. The second phase used enrollment data to validate and test the impact of a bidirectional relationship between the student and institution with the use of logistic regression model or a cluster analysis.

The results indicated that a complex relationship exists between the student and institution as the role of principal and agent interchange. The change in roles was expressed by a shift in power dynamic, information asymmetry, shirking, and actor motivation. Also, motivating factors impacted decisions throughout the process, as such, motivating factors influencing admissions decisions were different from decisions concerning aid allocation, and a different set of motivators influenced the appeal decision-making process from the institution perspective. The overall results indicated that the relationship developed between the student and institution greatly impacts contract negotiations around enrollment when explored with the use of principal-agent theory.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wall, Andrew F.
Commitee: DeAngelis, Karen J., Lane, Jason E.
School: University of Rochester
Department: Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration
Keywords: Bidirectional relationship, Enrollment management, Merit aid, Mixed methods, Principal agent theory
Publication Number: 3621209
ISBN: 978-1-303-92209-1
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