Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Christine Brenner


As college costs continue to rise, the importance of financial aid to create equitable access to higher education has also risen. This increase in importance of financial aid has coincided with an increase in the complication of the financial aid process. This paper explores challenges of financial aid administration, the effect of financial aid, and potential innovations in the field. Through one-on-one interviews with administrators, students, college access organization employees and a college access researcher the common themes are explored highlighted. The qualitative analysis of these interviews revealed the financial aid process to be complicated and burdensome for everyone involved, highlighted by continuously changing federal regulations and difficulty communicating between administrators and students. Ideas for innovations ranged from financial literacy courses to increased use of social media. Overall, the effect of financial aid was positive, yet overly stressful for the students. Through these findings, recommendations included financial aid administrators enacting process simplification, the introduction of financial literacy courses at the high school and college level, and the federal government granting more autonomy to administrators.