Financial Aid for Men and Women Undergraduate Students
Do men and women undergraduate students receive different financial aid packages? The answer is clearly no and yes. While financial aid is ostensibly awarded without regard to gender, in fact men and women are often differently situated and financial aid is awarded to address the circumstances of each individual aid applicant. But when these individual circumstances are controlled, a small but consistent pattern of differences emerges, particularly in favor of women in private colleges and universities.
We have analyzed the financial aid circumstances for men and women undergraduate students using data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) for the 2003-04 academic year. Our analysis is limited to full-time, full-year single institution enrollments. (Financial aid policy analysis quickly becomes complex beyond comprehension unless it is focused on a recognizable population.)
The overview finds:
- There were 2,387,180 men and 2,766,780 women undergraduate students in our NPSAS sample.
- Median parental income for men was $64,807 compared to $60,055 for women.
Our analysis of the NPSAS data examines college affordability for male and female undergraduates controlling for institutional type and control (public 4-year, public 2-year, private 4-year), and parental income quartiles ($0 to $34,288, $32,289 to $62,240, $62,241 to $96,006, and $95,007 and above). We measure college affordability for students in four ways: 1) unmet financial need, 2) student work/loan burden, 3) net price to family and 4) net price to family as a percent of parental income.
We will report these findings in more detail in the August issue of Postsecondary Education OPPORTUNITY. The major findings are:
- Similarly situated men and women undergraduate students receive very similar financial aid packages to address their financial needs.
- When institutional sector and parental income are controlled women have a financial aid advantage over men in 31 cells and men have an advantage over women in 11 cells.
- Among students in the bottom quartile of parental income women enjoy an advantage over men in 11 cells and men enjoy the advantage in 1 cell.
- Women enjoy their largest advantage over men in private 4-year colleges and universities in all affordability measures and at all income levels.