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Ryan King

Matt Nowlin
POLI 405
April 30, 2015
STUDENTLOANSANDFINANCIALAIDPOLICY

INTRODUCTION
In the 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama asserted, Getting the best
possible education has never been more important than it is right now. In the most recent State
of the Union, President Obama amended, By the end of this decade, jobs will require some
higher education, [but] striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. Scholars
and economists agree as the global economy and workforce expand, competition will intensify
and higher educational attainment will become increasingly paramount. And Americans seek
higher education for higher and more competitive wages and happiness; and to improve the
quality of life. However, tuition for private and public institutions continues to rise and students
struggle with student loans and debt upon graduation. According to financial aid experts, the
average student loan debt exceeded $33,000 (Fortenbury). With skyrocketing debts and recent
changes to financial aid, political scientists have shifted focus to financial aid policy.
Financial aid policy has evolved since the passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Seeking career and job opportunities and managing loans and debt remain the primary concerns
for many middle class and lower income students and families. However, policymakers and
researchers focus on student loan default rates, financial aid tied to academic achievement,
congressional hearings, debates, field hearings, public opinion concerning loans and grants, and
the implications of such factors on the financial aid policy process. Despite previous research
and scholarly articles on the financial aid policy process, minimal experimentation has been

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carried out to determine the variables, which stimulate new financial aid policies or amendments.
As a result, we find ourselves asking, What causes Congress to address financial aid policies?
The following research design provides an empirical and categorical investigation of the
financial aid policymaking process. In addition, the research seeks to determine whether
financial aid policy constitutes punctuated equilibrium or incrementalism or gradualism. A
number of factors relate to financial aid policy including public opinion, state funding and grants,
the preferences of policy makers, and reauthorizations. However, evidence suggests student loan
default rates play a more significant role in increased congressional hearings; and action or
inaction on financial aid policy. Jacob P.K. Gross, Osman Cekic, Don Hossler, and Nick Hillman
from the Indiana and Perdue Universities propose a direct correlation exists between the levels or
rate of student loan default and increased congressional hearings and actions regarding financial
aid policy. Correlation does not imply causation. Therefore, the following research seeks to
determine the factors or variable(s) that influence Congressional attention to financial aid issues.
In other words, What factors influence Congressional attention to financial aid?

LITERATURE REVIEW
As higher education plays a significant role in the global economy, workforce and
society, the financial burden and costs increase as well. Prior the passage of the Higher
Education Act of 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the earliest financial aid policy began
in 1944 with the GI Bill; and Congress frequently revisits financial aid policy. Political scientists
continue to conduct studies and experiments to investigate the efficacy of the current financial
aid policies. Research also investigates the factors that influence Congressional attention to
financial aid. Recent studies show ideology, political party identification, the student default rate,
and party of power play important roles. However, researchers concur the student default rate

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and the party in power appear to influence Congressional attention to financial aid policy
significantly. The Executive and Legislative Branches must review the budget annually and
financial aid and education fall among the top appropriation bills. According to the
Congressional Budget Office, the federal government spent $30.9 billion in Pell Grants and
student aid in 2009 and 2010; however, as the number of students who default on loans
increases, Congress must amend and reevaluate financial aid more frequently. In addition, the
agenda of the party of power may focus on education and employment thus increased attention to
financial aid. The following literature review explores existing research on the factors that
influence Congressional attention to financial aid.
In relationship to analysis and the influences, which lead to reauthorizations of the Higher
Education Act Dr. Robin L. Capt from Texas A&M University, utilizes categorical analysis. Dr.
Capt explores the key elements in the federal financial aid policy process, policy-decision, and
policy implementation (Capt). Recent enrollment trends, student loans, and existing legislation
force researchers and Congress to analyze HEA reauthorizations and related policies in order to
adjust appropriations and increase accessibility. Dr. Capt argues increasing tuition costs decrease
state funding but dramatically increase federal loans.
The driving theory states, as higher education remains a federal concern and the
government continues to support research and development, Congress must oversee three areas:
Equal Protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, research appropriations, and fund matching
of loans for postsecondary students (Capt). Regulations and accountability also require the
continuous federal oversight to distribute funds. As Baumgartner and Jones argue punctuated
equilibrium dictates most public policy, Dr. Capt concurs structural fragmentation and the
preferences of influential participants in the policy outcomes (Capt). However, financial policy

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is characterized as incremental due to the vast number of participants. Currently, House and
Senate committees and subcommittees, the Department of Education, the OMB, the Executive
Office Policy Development, firms and financial organizations representing educational
institutions and programs, which benefit from student aid programs play significant roles in the
policymaking process (Capt). The key players dictate the agenda in a slow evolving political
environment based on existing policies. Adjusting policy is also a direct response to public
opinion and constituents. The increased demands of middle and lower class families has resulted
in increased action with various legislation including the reauthorizations of HEA and Higher
Education Reconciliation Act of 2005, which reduced the loan rate. Current proposed bills
include FAST, (Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency Act and the Higher Education
Affordability Act. As interest groups, lawmakers, and committees continue proposing
recommendations, Congress is forced to address the issue of affordable higher education.
Unfortunately, Capt discusses theories and factors relating to increased policy attention without
statistical or numerical data. The enclosed research design seeks to incorporate continuous data
to determine the significance of multiple factors.
In Journal of Student Financial Aid, Seymour, Zimmerman, and Donato discuss early
policies dictating the distribution of financial aid policy. In the late 1970s and 1980s, political
scientists did not fully investigate the variables that influence the outcomes of the financial aid
policy process. Previous research theorized granting financial aid revolved around loan
repayments and academic performance. However, Seymour et al. investigate the relationship of
student variables to the assignment of financial aid a specific aspect of financial aid policy. The
variables utilized in the experiment could be applied in the proposed research design as control
variables. Academic achievement and major were among the top variables, and the Chi-squared

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test measured statistical significance indicating the variables are expected to influence financial
aid distribution. Major produced varied results. Business and Public Administration students
received less financial assistance than Education, Art and Sciences, and Agriculture. Clearly, the
field of study reflected the interests of the federal government, the party in power, and economy
during the late 20th century. The p-values of Agriculture (.06) and A&S (.45) compared to B&PA
(34.20) indicate the significance of the former. Therefore, specific majors may determine or
influence financial aid policy and distribution. In addition, academic achievement produced a
positive relationship between financial assistance. However, a correlation could not be
determined. While the research omitted policymaking variables, Seymour et al. reveal the
complex nature of financial aid.
Michael Mumper and Pamela Vander Ark analyze the Stafford Student Loan Program and
the challenges to loan reform. The challenges and lack of reform in loans may indicate financial
aid policy remains incremental; however, financial aid policy also incorporates grants and
intuitional aid. While current proposed legislation deals with lower loan interest rates, the basic
structure of the loan program remains unchanged. Mumper and Ark concluded the Stafford Loan
Program remains a major political matter; however, conditions prevent any major structural
reform characterized as punctuated equilibrium. The initial discussion supports the party in
power theory. The Johnson Administration and Congress ushered and prioritized college student
assistance programs with the Higher Education Act as an integral part of the Great Society
legislation (Mumper and Ark 63). As the programs grew, Congress could not control the shortterm costs; as a result, Congress addressed financial program appropriations with the budget. As
the volume of loans increased, the expansion broadened political support increasing attention to
various student aid programs. While the program is considered a success, the expansion resulted

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in various problems specifically drastic costs that currently press members Congress and the
President. With budget cuts and increased tuition costs and loans, reform proposals are
complicated with high default rates. While reform presses Congress, choices must be made over
objections of primary constituencies: middle-income students, banks, and expensive private
college (Mumper 75). In turn, policymakers must focus on spending policy in the budget cycle,
which may bring strong political opposition and minimal support from low-income students and
local colleges. It would appear the student default rate and general increasing expenditures have
increased Congressional attention. Translating the student default rate into measurable data still
remains a common deficiency among the later research. In Congress and the Politics of
Financial Aid, Katherine A. Ozer argues drastic budget cuts and increases in maximum grant and
aid funds with increases in tuition complicate financial aid policy. However, the reauthorizations
of the Higher Education Amendments reaffirm governmental commitment in financing and
supporting post secondary education (Ozer 27). While Dr. Dongbin Kim researches the effect of
financial aid on choice; and choice refers to priorities of students, which may conflict with the
agendas of policymakers. As policymakers focus financial aid policy on research universities and
students who seek degrees in the sciences, math, or engineering. Kim argues financial aid ought
to provide equal educational opportunities especially for minorities and low-income families
(Kim 47). While the subject matter of the research may not be applicable to the proposed design,
the tests are applicable including the chi-square test to test null hypotheses. It appears categorical
data would be more appropriate to measure and test; however, continuous data would permit the
use of the t-test, p-values, and linear regression models.
Gross, Cekic, Hossler, and Hillman analyze the effect of student loan default on financial
aid policy in What Matters in Student Loan Default: A Review of the Research. According to

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Gross et al. policymakers monitor student loan default rates to track progress. Student loan
default influenced the HEA reauthorizations; Representatives Bishop (D-NY) and Grijalva (DAZ) introduced an amendment, which requires a federal study of default rates in 2008. The high
default rates raised a series of questions for policymakers including the following:
Is default a function of the characteristics of students or of the institutions they attend?
Do the types of loans influence the probabilities of default? Do life circumstanceslike
the types of jobs and income levels of students after they graduatehave an impact on
default rates? (Gross et al. 20)

Policymakers must address these issues in order to produce the most efficient financial aid
policy. Educational attainment, academic preparation (achievement), and program of study
resurfaced in the study. However, evidence supporting the relationship between financial aid
policy and default remained mixed (Gross et al. 27). Fiscal constraints and rising student debt
forced Congress to provide loans to provide access to higher education. Gross and his colleagues
agree loans and default rates are cornerstones of federal higher education policy.
Neil S. Seftor and Sara E. Turner discuss a brief history of the Pell Grants in the research
article. In the early 1970s, policymakers sought a universal and level finance plan for all
students. Constituents and interest groups pushed for equal access and Congress developed the
Pell Grant. However, as incomes fluctuate, policymakers must amend eligibility requirements
(Seftor and Turner 339). Between 1970 and 2000, Pell Grants gradually increased; however,
loans have replaced a majority of grants. The research designed showed changes in available
federal financial aid significantly affect the enrollment of nontraditional students (Seftor and
Turner 349). Seftor and Turner address an issue policymakers will face in the near feature. With
increasing expenditures on aid to students; will financial aid policymakers continue to fund both
grants and loans as students default?

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The following scholarly publications focus solely on the politics of financial aid policy.
The general consensus among preceding researchers reiterates student loan default rates,
increasing costs, and field of study influence financial aid policy in various capacities. The major
challenge analyzing the influences of Congressional attention to financial aid policy involves the
lack of continuous or numerical data.
Dr. Susan Dynarski of the University of Michigan and Dr. Judith Scott-Clayton of
Columbia University several issues of student aid policy in Financial Aid Policy: Lessons from
Research. Since HEA, financial aid programs have grown in scale, expanded in scope, and
multiplied (Dynarski and Clayton 67). While a majority of research focuses on the impacts of
financial aid on student achievement and opportunity, policymakers continue to seek new ways
to control costs. The authors reiterate previous themes aid now assists nontraditional students
and accessibility has increased. In addition, the Department of Education, the Treasury as well as
Congress, the President, and state governments must work together to pass cohesive policy. As
government expenditures increase, investors, taxpayers, and policymakers seek to determine the
return (Dynarski and Clayton 68). As a result, attention to financial aid policy is increasing. The
evolving nature of financial aid also requires increased attention and legislative action. On the
other hand, policy remains even more complex as financial aid policy and FAFSA involve the
IRS, taxes, and credits as prescribed with the passage of the Hope Credit and American
Opportunity Tax Credit. Dynarski and Clayton reinforce the theory as state and federal budgets
face increasing pressures and politicians look for ways to control spending and financial aid
programs will be vulnerable to cutbacks if evidence is lacking on their effectiveness (86). Again
costs play a significant role in financial aid policy and attention.

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Dan Madzelan discusses similar changes in student aid policy in The Politics of Student
Aid. Madzelan sheds light on the party in power. However, administrations regardless of party
pursue more explicit higher education policy and goals (3). While the President typically
drives the policy agenda and student aid policy, Congress and interest groups ultimately shape
aid packages and policies.
Interestingly, Dr. William R. Doyle of Vanderbilt University seeks to explain different
levels of financial aid and the importance of the ideology of state legislatures and the influence
of public and private institutions (Abstract). Doyle posits the following research question, To
what extent do state policy makers preferences affect levels of tuition and financial aid in the
states. While Doyle focuses on state financial aid policy, the variables could be used with
caution in a federal analysis. The fact student aid policy remains on political agendas means
various players impact legislation. In order to determine the influence of ideology, Doyle
proposes the following hypotheses:
H1: Holding other variables constant, appropriations in any state will depend on
the level of liberalism in state government.
H2: Holding other variables constant, tuition will decrease as state government
becomes more liberal. Tuition will decrease more with liberalism in states with
higher public enrollments and less in states with higher private enrollments.
H3: Holding other variables constant, financial aid will in- crease as state
government becomes more liberal. Financial aid will increase more with
liberalism in states with higher private enrollment and less in states with lower
private enrollment.
The dependent variables involved: state tax appropriations for high education, tuition and
required fees at all public four year colleges and universities, and the total amount of state
student financial aid on a per-student basis. The independent variables include the level of state
government liberalism and the size of private enrollment in the state (630-632). Liberalism is
based on the range of 0 (most conservative) to 100 (most liberal). A series of control variables
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were utilized. Doyle ran several models. The results suggest ideological positions of
policymakers influence tuition levels and private institutions influence financial aid(645). The
complex research, however, does not suggest ideology influences the frequency of attention.
Ideology, costs (federal appropriations and tuition), and the rate of student default clearly play
significant roles in attention towards financial aid policy. The research design and data methods
will explore these variables to determine the most statistically significant factors.

RESEARCH DESIGN
Researches have identified policymaking as a political phenomenon of high interests as
new policies and legislation consist of far-reaching effects on the state and federal level. As
mentioned previously, higher education has become increasingly important for the evolving
global economy; however, the costs of such education continue to rise. I have chosen to focus on
the student debt/loan default rate, the number of congressional hearings concerning higher
education funding, party control, and possibly the New York Times Index (the number of articles
published concerning the subject matter) to indicate media attention. To build upon the theories
presented in the literature review, the following research design seeks to operationalize the
independent and dependent variables for analysis in R Studio and to test the proposed
hypotheses.
THEORY
Previous research and current studies indicate a relationship between student loan rates
and congressional attention concerning financial aid policy. As college and university tuition
costs continue to increase, students require more assistance; thus, Congress must appropriate
funds for such expenses in the budget. As a result, budgetary action requires more congressional
attention. Political scientists also concur party control influences agenda as well as the

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importance or lack thereof of education. Traditionally, Democrats and Republicans both support
higher education; however, the parties approach different goals. According the article, Democrats
typically seek to make college affordable for students of all backgrounds and confront the
burden of loans while Republicans seek to address rising college costs while shifting federal
student aid onto a sustainable path (UW). Regardless, the party in control drives the agenda
and congressional attention to higher education and financial policy fluctuates.
I will also include media attention towards financial aid and higher education. As
publications increase in prominent titles such as the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times,
and the Washington Post, increased hearings may occur due the fact members of Congress not
only pursue individual agendas, but represent and listen to the constituents which may influence
attention towards financial aid policy.
In order to test the theories, to determine the nature of financial aid policymaking, and to
determine the factors, which influence congressional attention towards financial aid policy, I will
test the following hypotheses:
H1: As the student loan default (i.e. rate of delinquent loans) increases, Congressional
attention towards financial aid policy increases.
H0: The likelihood of Congressional attention towards financial aid policy does not
increase with increasing student loan default rates.
H2: If the Democrats control the House, Congressional attention towards financial aid
policy increases.
H0: The likelihood of Congressional attention towards financial aid policy does not
increase with party control.
H3: If the number of publications concerning higher education and financial aid
increases, Congressional attention towards financial aid policy increases.
H0: The likelihood of Congressional attention towards financial aid policy will not
increase with an increase in newspaper articles or publications concerning financial
aid & higher education.

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DATA & METHODS


Several constraints including time and lack of resources prevented the conduction of a
time series analysis. However, the research design incorporates a bivariate test, simple linear
OLS regression as well as multiple regression models, and in-depth descriptive statistics. The
Policy Agendas Project, sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin, provided a majority of
the data used in the research. Utilizing the trend analysis function, I downloaded the respective
data sets for Congressional Hearings on Higher Education and the New York Times Index. I will
determine Party Control through external research corresponding with the Congressional Hearing
data provided by the Policy Agendas Project. The student loan default rate will be analyzed as a
percentage over 27 years (1987 2014). The New York Federal Reserve of New York supplied
the dataset providing percent changes in student loan debt from Q1: 1987 through Q1: 2014. As
the data regarding student loan default rate for previous years is not available in either dataset,
the research design will only focus on Congressional Hearings on financial aid and higher
education policy from 1987 though 2014.
The research design operationalizes the dependent variable, Congressional attention
towards financial aid policy, as the number of Congressional hearings held concerning financial
aid and educational assistance programs for students and families for each year between 1987
and 2014. The number of hearings in ascending order (1987 to 2014) follows as: 14, 24, 29, 16,
27, 55, 9, 17, 20, 12, 25, 21, 32, 13, 11, 26, 6, 12, 12, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 28, NA, NA, NA.
The independent variable, student loan default rate, will be tested and coded as a
percentage from the lowest percentage to the highest percentage. The student default rate is
measured as percentages in order relationship to year and is scaled as followed: 17.6, 17.2, 21.4,

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22.4, 17.8, 15, 11.6, 10.7, 10.4, 9.6, 8.8, 6.9, 5.6, 5.9, 5.4, 5.2, 6.13, 6.34, 6.03, 6.39, 6.85, 7.38,
7.88, 8.36, 9.12, 8.69, 11.19, 11.01. The coding of the student loan default rate operationalizes
the independent as a continuous variable. Provided the continuous nature of the variables, the
correlation coefficient (Pearsons R) can be used in the bivariate hypothesis testing and the
testing of the directional and null hypotheses can occur.
The independent control variable, party control of Congress will be coded as a 1 or 0,
with 1 as Democrats and 0 as Republicans or Split as the two major parties split control of
Congress. The independent control variable, media attention, will be represented via the New
York Times Index dataset provided by the Policy Agendas Project. Media Attention will be
measured by the number of publications regarding financial & educational policy per year and
will be scaled from 1987 to 2014: 2, 3, 2, 6, 7, 4, 3, 2, 4, 5, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 2, 6, 2, 2, 1, 4, 0, NA,
NA, NA, NA, NA, NA. The ascending scale operationalizes media attention in order to test the
variable in R.
The following research focuses primarily on the student loan default and party control.
We should be able to avoid spurious relationships and observe if any relationship exists between
the independent and control variables and the dependent variable, Congressional attention to
financial aid policy. Furthermore, the data concerning control variables influencing
Congressional attention has been scarce as the topic is relatively new. Hopefully, we will see a
positive relationship between the variables and the number of Congressional hearings towards
financial aid policy for higher education.
DATA ANALYSIS
DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS
Table 1: Rate_Hearings Descriptive Statistics
Variable Name

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Rate**

10.245

4.938

5.2

22.4

Hearings***

20.4

NA*

55

Party Control

.429

.504

3.045

NA*

Media Attention

NOTES: **IV; ***DV; *R - responds with NA due to unavailable data (3 & 6 NAs)
The descriptive statistics in Table 1 display the mean, minimum, and maximum of each
variable indicative of the available data between 1987 and 2014 as well as the standard deviation.
The descriptive statistics present the data concerning the student default rate and congressional
hearings on financial aid model in meaningful manner. We must avoid any premature
conclusions or assumptions regarding the hypotheses based on the statistics. The mean and
standard deviation show the expected average values and the degree to which values deviate.
Rate represents the student default rates as a percentage with a minimum of 5.2% (low)
and a maximum of 22.4% (high). The mean indicates the average default loan rate over 27 years
was approximately 10.245%. The standard deviation from 10.245% is 4.938%, indicating a
difference between student loan default rates. The default rates are not completely consistent, and
the sample population experiences volatility; student default rates varied. The lowest default rate
measured at 5.2% while the highest default rate measured 22.4%. Hearings represent
congressional attention towards financial aid and higher education funding (grants, etc.) with a
mean of 20.4. In other words, the average number of congressional hearings on financial aid
policy and funding between 1987 and 2011 is 20.4 hearings. Unfortunately, there is no data
available for 2012 through 2014; however, R accounts for NA responses. The minimum and
maximum values for hearings indicate a wide range of the number of hearings 6 to 55. While
controlling for Party Control over Congress and Media Attention, we also see the (mean),
(standard deviation), minimum and maximum values for each respective variable. For party,
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of party control (Republican and Democrats) was .429 while the spread (or deviation) measured
.504, which is relatively low. For Media Attention, the measures 3.045 articles.
RESULTS
BIVARIATE TEST
The bivariate hypothesis test involved continuous dependent and dependent variables
with the number of Congressional Hearings concerning higher education financial aid as the DV;
student default loan rate as the IV. The results of the Pearsons Correlation Coefficient between
Rate and Hearings are as followed:
Rate and Hearings
t = 1.3645, df = 23, p-value = 0.1856
alternative hypothesis: true correlation is not equal
to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
-0.1361947 0.6035325
sample estimates:
cor
0.2736633
According to the results of Pearsons Product-Moment Correlation test, the p-value is .
1856 and not considered statistically significant. Kellstedt and Whitten, authors of The
Foundations of Political Science Research, state, most political scientists use the standard pvalue of .05, and scientists consider relationships with p-values less than .05 statistically
significant (149). With a p-value greater than .05, the relationship between the two variables
student default loan rate and congressional hearings is not systematic or occurs with random
chance. In addition, we cannot reject the null hypothesis that indicates the student default loan
rate does not cause an increase in the number of Congressional hearings on higher education
grants and financial aid policy. In addition, the standard critical t-value of 1.96 is greater than the
calculated t-value of the bivariate test (1.3645), which does not indicate statistically significance.
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Furthermore, the probability of observing the relationship between student default rates and
congressional hearings due to random chance is 0.186 or 93 in 500. A clear covariation between
rate and congressional hearings does not exist.
In order to control the experiment, the relationships between the dependent variable,
Congressional Hearings, and party control of Congress and Media attention were considered and
measured. The relationship between Party and Hearings revealed a slight more correlation based
on the p-value of .1065 compared to .1856 (Rate). The results of Pearsons Correlation
Coefficient test are below:
Pearson's Product-Moment Correlation
Party and Hearings
t = 1.6798, df = 23, p-value = 0.1065
alternative hypothesis: true correlation is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
-0.07426399 0.64185997
sample estimates:
cor
0.3305671

However, just the Rate~Hearings Model did not satisfy the characteristics of statistical
significance, the relationship Party~Hearings fails to produce the standard critical and p-values.
In addition, the p-value for Media~Hearings measures .9924, which indicates no relationship,
correlation, or covariance. I can be confident that there is no covariance among the variables and
I must consider the proposed null hypotheses.
REGRESSIONS
In addition to the bivariate tests, the simple OLS regression concerning Congressional
Hearings and the student default loan rate produced the following results:

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SIMPLE REGRESSION
lm(formula = Hearings ~ Rate)
Residuals:
Min
1Q Median
3Q Max
-12.260 -6.369 -0.484 2.829 32.121
Coefficients:
Estimate Std. Error t-value
Pr(>|t|)
(Intercept) 15.0676
4.3686
3.449
0.00218 **
Rate
0.5208
0.3817
1.365
0.18560
--Signif. codes: 0 *** 0.001 ** 0.01 * 0.05 . 0.1 1
Residual standard error: 9.764 on 23 degrees of freedom
(3 observations deleted due to missingness)
Multiple R-squared: 0.07489,
Adjusted R-squared: 0.03467
F-statistic: 1.862 on 1 and 23 DF, p-value: 0.1856
The simple regression model produces inconclusive data; and evidence to support the primary
directional hypothesis H1: As the student loan default (i.e. rate of delinquent loans) increases,
Congressional attention towards financial aid policy increases remains nonexistence. The tvalue (1.365) is less than the standard critical value and the Beta coefficient as a result is
insignificant even though the estimated value measures .5208. In other words, while (X) Rate
may have a positive influence on (Y) Hearings and the number of hearings increases by .5208
for one change in the default rate, the model indicates the relationship is no based on covariance
or pure chance. The p-value also measures 0.1856, which does not indicate statistical
significance. The adjusted R-squared, which indicates the percentage of the response variable
variation explained by the fitted regression line is low .03467 or 3.4%. The model explains
none of the variability of the response data around the mean.
MULTIPLE REGRESSION
Figure 1.1 and Table 1.2 display the results of the multiple regression:
FIG.1.1
lm(formula = Hearings ~ Rate + Party + Media)***
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*** includes lagged or lead values to simulate simple Time-Series test***


Residuals:
Min
1Q Median
3Q Max
-12.528 -5.610 -1.373
3.262 32.419
Coefficients:
Estimate Std. Error
t-value
Pr(>|t|)
(Intercept) 15.7772 5.9045
2.672
0.0155 *
Rate
0.5068
0.8148
0.622
0.5418
Party
1.8840
8.3300
0.226
0.8236
Media
-0.6705 1.5704
-0.427
0.6745
--Signif. codes: 0 *** 0.001 ** 0.01 * 0.05 . 0.1 1
Residual standard error: 10.65 on 18 degrees of freedom
(6 observations deleted due to missingness)
Multiple R-squared: 0.1074,
Adjusted R-squared: -0.04131
F-statistic: 0.7223 on 3 and 18 DF, p-value: 0.5517

Table 1.2
OLS Regression Estimates for Voter Frequency in Primary Elections
Variable
(Intercept)

Model 1
15.8
(0.015)
0.51
(0.54)
1.88
(0.82)
-0.67
(0.6)

Rate
Party
Media
R2

0.11

Adj. R2
Num. obs.

-0.04
21

***p < 0.001, **p < 0.01, *p < 0.05

According to the multiple regression results controlling lagged, or lead variables, a single
increase in the default rate (the primary independent variable) results in a .507 increase in the
number of congressional hearings on financial aid policy. The default rate is not statistically
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significant even controlling for party control of Congress and media attention. The model
indicates the following t-values for the variables in descending order: .622 (Rate); .226 (Party);
-0.427 (Media) none of which are greater than the critical value of 1.96. In addition, the p-value
(probability) measures 0.5517 confirming the lack of covariance and evidence against the null
hypotheses. Surprisingly, all of the variables are not statistically significant even incorporating
the time lag. The adjusted R2 value of -.04 indicating the model while controlling for party and
media attention accounts for 0.0% percent of the variance of the relationship between Rate and
Hearings. The model also indicates an inclusive relationship between the student default loan
rate and the frequency of congressional hearings on federal grants and financial aid.
DISCUSSION & CONCLUSION
With careful, extensive and appropriate and accurate methods and tests, and knowledge
of current research and literature, I hoped to find a stronger evidence to support the directional
hypothesis. However, the data and models indicate no relationship exists between the
independent variables and the dependent variable the number of Congressional hearings on
financial aid, grants, and expenses related to government aid in higher education. My theory
cannot explain congressional attention to such an increasingly important social issue and public
policy. The results of the multiple regression fail to support both the proposed theory and
hypotheses; additional variables must be responsible and tested. Based on the literature review
and preliminary research, the data concerning the student default loan rate and congressional
attention remained sparse even though conclusions arose with positive results indicating a
positive relationship. The default rate, however, cannot stand as a sole influence of congressional
attention.

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While the student default rate has been used as an indicator to determine the level of
congressional in previous research, the tests proved that the rate does not have a significant effect
on congressional attention; thus, another variable or variables are influential. In relationship to
punctuated equilibrium theory and the concepts of public policymaking, the Rate~Hearings
model combines characteristics of bounded rationality and disproportionate attention. While the
student default loan rate is on the rise again, policymakers cannot consider budgetary
amendments to coincide with default changes continually and solutions cannot be pursued at all
times. In terms of disproportionate attention, the lack of attention or input will explain less action
and vice versa. In The Politics of Attention, Jones and Baumgartner highlight, policymakers are
unwilling to shift focus on certain issues for ideological and pragmatic reasons. In other words,
policy outcomes play a critical role in policy decisions or inaction. Hopefully, future research
will pose serious questions concerning why the policymakers, institutions and venues prompt
particular solutions or attention of issues that should be addressed or ignored. We can also the
data to identify patterns based equilibrium, stability, continuity disrupted by change
regarding higher education aid policies.
While my hypothesis and theory appear extremely weak, the results of the research
design will prove beneficial to future political scientists seeking to understand the drivers of
congressional attention towards financial aid. Future research could incorporate cross-sectional
or case study and a true time-series analysis. And perhaps the number of legislation or bills
passed and proposed to deal with student loans should be considered in future tests.

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