While a substantial number of studies have evaluated the effects of merit aid programs, there is a surprising lack of any systematic consideration of how states determine eligibility criteria for these scholarships. The selectivity of merit aid eligibility criteria can be as important as whether or not such programs are adopted. If, for example, merit aid programs have broad, easily-attained initial eligibility criteria, then a large proportion of high school graduates, including low-income and under-represented students, will gain eligibility. On the other hand, if the criteria are more rigorous, then a smaller proportion of students, likely those already planning to attend and with the means to afford college, will be eligible. Thus, this innovative book - the first to deepen the descriptive and conceptual understanding of the process by which states determine merit aid scholarship criteria - is crucial to understanding merit aid's success and failures at fulfilling the promise of education.
"Merit Aid and the Politics of Education is a timely and relevant contribution to the study of state financial aid policy and higher education governance." -- Nick Hillman, The Review of Higher Education, Fall 2008
Part 1: Introduction to the Politics of Merit Aid 1. Deciding Who Earns Merit Aid: A Comparative Case Study Approach 2. Public Policy Frameworks: Advocacy Coalition, Multiple Streams, and Electoral Connection Part 2: Three Episodes of Criteria Determination 3. New Mexico Lottery Success Scholarship Program 4. West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship Program 5. Tennessee HOPE Scholarship Program Part 3: Analysis of and Implications for Education Policy 6. Comparative Case Analysis: Between Episodes and Across Frameworks 7. Conclusion: A Revised Model of Merit Aid Policy Formulation. Appendix A: Population of States with Merit-Based Financial Aid Programs. Appendix B: Interview Protocol. Appendix C: Analytic Framework