Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Education

First Advisor

K. B. Melear

Second Advisor

Amy E. Wells Dolan

Third Advisor

David Rock


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



This dissertation in practice (DiP) studies the relationship between the receipt of the Mississippi Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students (MS-HELP) Grant and cumulative grade point average (GPA) at the beginning of their graduating term among graduating senior students at the University of Mississippi (UM). This study relies on the metric of Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is a dollar amount generated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) designed to measure the amount of money a household can reasonably be expected to contribute to higher education. The MS-HELP Grant is a need-based grant provided by the State of Mississippi for Mississippi-resident students with a Pell Grant-eligible EFC, at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA, and at least 15 hours of enrollment per semester, and at least a score of 20 on the ACT, the family must not exceed certain income and household limitations. MS-HELP Grant is a fall and spring semester-only award that one must apply and secure eligibility for within one year of graduating high school. Each year the award application deadline for the upcoming award year is March 31st which means first-time prospective freshmen applicants are still in high school when the award application deadline passes. This study utilized a data file from the University of Mississippi Office of Financial Aid of over 5,000 Mississippi resident graduating seniors from 2014 to 2019. After controls for EFC and GPA as described above were applied the number of students whose EFC and GPA met these thresholds resulted in a total of approximately 1,500 students to be examined. Cumulative GPA for MS-HELP Grant and non-MS-HELP Grant recipients with an EFC of $0-$5,500 were examined, then only those with a $0 EFC, next those with $1-$1,500 EFC, finally those with a $1,501-$5,500 EFC. Once mean GPA was established for each group a 2 sample z-test was employed to determine the significance of the difference in GPA to determine if there was or was not a significant in GPA between MS-HELP Grant recipients and non-recipients and if there was correlation to EFC. The findings reflected that receipt of MS-HELP Grant was most effective in terms of cumulative GPA among those demonstrating the highest financial need.



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