Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Scaling Success: Social Belonging and Values Affirmation Increase Postsecondary Persistence

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 10:35 AM
Tequesta (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Josh Martin, ideas42
A randomized experiment was conducted at a large public college to assess the effects of an intervention designed to help students choose classes that qualified for their program of study and were therefore eligible for financial aid. Two separate email-based treatments were implemented: (1) a two-page registration reference resource containing a list of courses that are eligible for given majors (a different resource was administered for each major). This treatment was administered as part of an email that goes out to students of differing seniority to inform them of the date their registration window begins;  (2) a re-designed email template sent out automatically when students have registered—mistakenly or otherwise—for a course that falls outside their major path. This e-mail was re-designed to include graphics and personalized information to increase the salience of the consequences of remaining “noncompliant” as well as instructions for re-registering.

Preliminary results suggest that the intervention helped students retain $95 of their financial aid refund on average, representing over $500,000 in total savings for students at the college. Efforts to assemble data on student “total financial aid” (including both Pell grants and student loans) are ongoing with the help of college  staff. Final results with full financial and academic data from spring 2015 are expected later in fall 2015. Results from this work suggest the importance of communication for financial aid departments, as well as a cost-effectve method for helping students retain aid and register for the correct courses. Further research should investigate the most effective channels for delivery of these messages, and whether variations in these messages can produce additional impact.

Full Paper: