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202   Appendix 2. Research Strategy and Limits The primary research for this book consists of archive work at 41 colleges and other organizations and conversations and correspondence with some 475 people from 129 institutions between 1990 and 2004 (see Appendix 3). I concentrated mainly on what are today well-endowed, high-tuition and highly selective private colleges and to a lesser extent on state flagships, but the research , especially interviews and secondary reading, covered a variety of other four-year colleges to put the elite focus into a wider context. Archive Research Archive work ranged from long historical sweeps, covering most of a college’s history, to looking at a particular policy over a few years. Within a general search for data, I sought statements and episodes that framed issues and expressed policy values rather than trying to produce a comprehensive history of financial aid at all leading colleges. Good light should not control where one looks for something, but richer colleges tend to have the best archives. The main archive materials used were catalogs and circulars; presidents’ annual reports, sometimes including subreports from deans and office directors; papers of presidents and others; trustee minutes; and special admissions and financial aid reports, including sections of college strategic plans. These were supplemented by foundation and government documents, especially federal but including some state reports. Much of the record, however, is incomplete, especially at the college level. Deciding who should get how much money and why is a delicate business , and college policies on the matter have not always been entrusted to permanent files. For example, the insertion of “need” into many scholarship Appendix 2. Research Strategy  203 requirements after World War II appears in college catalogs but seldom in archive policy papers. Likewise, only here and there have I found a written record of disagreements over financial aid within a college administration or among trustees, faculty, and students. Administrative control of the written record has probably exaggerated consensus. In the interviews (see below), I did indeed uncover policy differences, but this is not a political science book or a study of organizational dynamics. I have not systematically investigated the maneuvering and clout of different players and groups involved in financial aid policy. Studies along these lines, specifically focusing on student aid, have almost all been at the federal level—on the GI Bill and later programs. The only exception I know of is Angeles Lacomba Eames’s study of merit-aid policy-making at three midwestern colleges, 1996–2000.1 Affording College: The Limits of Historical Data As noted in Chapter 2, we have little hard data before the twentieth century on what proportions of different social classes went to college, and we have little before the 1960s on what it cost different social groups to go to different kinds of colleges. Catalogs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries often gave college charges and sometimes indicated how much aid a student might get, such as free tuition or reduction of charges, but the catalogs I have read in this period seldom said how many students received such aid and did not repeat those data over time. Existing studies of student economics in the colonial era and nineteenth century do not relate student charges and college aid to family and student incomes. Nor do they really tell us what a “self-supporting” student at a particular time and place could earn through the year by school-teaching and other jobs.2 I did not attempt the valuable but huge task of finding such data, as my focus was on policy attitudes rather than results. But of course results reflect and illuminate policy. Hence my analysis in Chapter 2 of Sarah Gordon ’s unique data on aid to Smith College students in the 1870s and 1880s, which I set against national data on incomes of manual workers and others. Local data would have been better, but this, again, needs a separate study. Interviews As Appendix 3 shows, the number of interviewees varied from one to four at most institutions to forty-four at Smith and fifty-three at Oberlin—scenes of 204   Aiding Students, Buying Students major policy developments in the 1990s. Because the interviews took place over more than ten years, they picked up trends and changes in the 1990s and early 2000s, especially as I revisited some colleges and reinterviewed some people—sometimes more than twice. The most common interviewees were campus financial aid directors, and deans or vice presidents...


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