From access to affordability: The Hope Scholarship tax credit

Ellen Frishberg, University of Pennsylvania


The Hope Scholarship program, a section of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, is the costliest piece of federal student financing legislation to date. It represented a major change in the way federal support for students was designed and delivered. At an estimated annual cost of $9.7 billion, it was 50% greater than the amount spent at that time for Pell Grants, the largest of the federal student grant programs. This research undertakes an in-depth exploration of the policy formation that brought this federal student financing legislation to enactment. Its underlying premise is that the Hope Scholarship legislation is unique in the annals of federal student financing. Typically, federal subsidies for education and for grant programs in student aid have the explicit goal of improving access to higher education opportunity. Most student assistance has been delivered to the student or the college at the time of enrollment. The Hope Scholarship, in contrast, is delivered after the fact of enrollment, to the parents of dependent students. This program differed from the typical student financing legislation on its way to passage not only in its delivery system, but also in its goal, audience, and influences. The process described and conclusions reached in this analysis are designed to further understanding of how federal higher education policy is formed.

Subject Area

Higher education|School finance|Public administration|School administration

Recommended Citation

Frishberg, Ellen, "From access to affordability: The Hope Scholarship tax credit" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3124684.