Student Incentives. Attainment and Affordability Washington Student Achievement Council Olympia, May 23 , 2013 Nate Johnson, HCM Strategists Nate_Johnson@hcmstrategists.com. College Productivity: Strategy Labs.
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Student Incentives Attainment and Affordability Washington Student Achievement Council Olympia, May 23, 2013 Nate Johnson, HCM Strategists Nate_Johnson@hcmstrategists.com
College Productivity: Strategy Labs With support from Lumina Foundation for Education, HCM Strategists helps states improve higher education attainment through site visits, networking opportunities, technical assistance, and timely nonpartisan research. Lumina’s big goal: To increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025
Affordability and the Big Goal Costs of college – tuition, books, living expenses – exceed what many students and families can afford Federal, state and private grant programs fill some but not all of that financial need gap What is optimal way to allocate limited resources to maximize degree completion? Which students? How much? What conditions?
Research-Based Idea #1: Aid Can Make a Difference for Low-Income Students
Example: Performance-Based Scholarships Series of random trials by MDRC Small supplemental scholarships ($600-$1,500 per term) conditioned on passing courses with at least a “C” Consistently positive results Source: Patel & Richburg-Hayes 2011
Example: Performance-Based Scholarships Increase Number of Students Meeting Progress Benchmarks
Research-Based Idea #2: But Not Always. Targeting and Program Structure Make a Difference
Example: Wisconsin Scholars Grant Test of impact of extra money alone—no strings Supplemental grants to Pell-eligible students No additional conditions Average supplement was $5,400 over two years Statewide test—all Wisconsin two- and four-year publics Source: Goldrick-Rab, Harris, Benson & Kelchen 2011
Wisconsin Study Found Few Significant Differences in Academic Outcomes Source: Goldrick-Rab et al 2011
Some students are more affected by aid and price than others • Lack of targeting blunts impact of aid • Biggest effects found for: • Low-income students • Lowest-income within low-income groups • Lowest GPA students within merit programs • The “highest-risk” students • Older students • Women
SummaryofRigorous Studies on Impact of Aid by Subgroup Source: Harris & Goldrick-Rab 2012
Example: Wisconsin Scholars Disaggregated by “Risk” Source: Goldrick-Rab et al, 2011
Research-Based Idea #3: Students Respond to Incentives to Take and Complete More Courses
Example: West Virginia Promise Scholarship Requires students to complete 30 credits per year to renew Credits earned and terms enrolled increased Source: Scott-Clayton 2009
Example: Adams State College Majority minority, primarily Pell-eligible population Inspired by Performance Based Scholarships Implemented block tuition (flat rate for 12-18 credits) Awarded small ($500) scholarships based on course completions Average fall course load increased from 12.2 to 13.5
Some Additional Findings Transparency and simplicity are critical Strong communication/promotion can amplify effects Short-term, concrete beats long-term, abstract (what do you want students to do today/this term/this year?) Not every dollar of unmet need is equal
Where Innovation is Happening Indiana: Incentives for annual student progress; students who complete 30 credits per year get maximum grants Colorado: State grant dollars allocated to institutions based on students’ progress Hawaii: Publicizing, promoting existing incentives (15-to-Finish campaign)