Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Rodney P. Hughes

Committee Co-Chair

Nathan Sorber

Committee Member

Erin McHenry-Sorber

Committee Member

Robert Duval


This dissertation is an empirical investigation of student level observations of 11 cohorts of first-time full-time freshmen from a public, land-grant, research university in Appalachia. Complete with student financial aid offerings, socioeconomic status, and pre-college academic characteristics such as standardized test scores and high school GPA, I investigate the data to examine institutional behavior constrained by resource dependence. The variable of interest is institutional financial aid. Institutional financial aid awards are monetary concessions presented to students as a means to discount the overall price a student pays to enroll. As institutional aid is a direct mechanism through which the institution can influence a student’s decision to attend, I argue it is a mechanism through which researchers can shed light on institutional priorities and goals in the context of a resource dependent institution of higher education. As this data spans twelve years and provides both pre and post-recession (2009-10) observations, I gain great leverage in examining institutional aid awards longitudinally. I use multivariate regression and summary statistics to evaluate my research questions guided by a theoretical framework supported by extant financial aid literature.