Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name


Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Keedy, John L.


Federal aid to education; Student aid--United States; Education, Higher--United States


This thesis is a historical analysis of the role the federal government has had in the in development student aid funding in the modern public four-year higher education system. It begins with a historical overview of the rise of progressivism as a significant animator of the federal government in the twentieth century. It focuses on the creation of the Pell Grant and Stafford Loan student aid vehicles and the effect that had on the creation of the modern middle-class. It then provides a discussion of the political and cultural backlash that was created by the ascendency of conservatism in the United States and its effects on student aid funding. The thesis is divided into four chapters. Chapter One provides the thesis of the paper as well as an overview of the structure of the proceeding chapters. Chapter Two provides an overview twentieth century progressivism and the steps taken by the federal government undertook to help create the modern middle-class. Chapter Three provides an overview of the conservative ascendency that begin in the post World War II era that wanted to roll back the federal policies of the progressives. Budgetary data from the years 1986, 1996 and 2005 to illustrate how conservative ideology has made access to federal student aid more difficult. Chapter Four provides a discussion of the findings, suggestions to policymakers as well as suggestions for future research.