Panel Paper: An Event History Analysis of the Introduction of Single Institution “Promise” Student Financial Aid Programs

Thursday, November 2, 2017
Atlanta (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jennifer Delaney, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Elaine Leigh, University of Pennsylvania

College Promise programs have emerged across the country as a policy innovation for increasing higher education attainment in local communities (prominent programs include the Kalamazoo Promise, the Pittsburgh Promise, the El Dorado Promise, etc.). Broadly encompassing place-based initiatives that promote higher education access, Promise programs are distinctive for providing financial awards to college by primarily targeting students based on geographic location. This stands in contrast to traditional student financial aid awards that are granted based on financial need or merit. This project explores factors that relate to the timing of the introduction of Promise programs. In particular, we focus on Promise programs that can be used only at a single institution. Our primary research question is: Using event history analysis, which postsecondary institutional features, Promise program characteristics, and diffusion factors contribute to the timing of the introduction of a single-institution Promise program?

The study uses two primary data sources. The first is the Delta Cost Project Dataset derived from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) as maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics. In addition, we use data on 82 single-institution Promise programs from the Penn AHEAD database of college Promise programs. Our panel dataset is identified at the institution-year level for the years 1987-2013.

Using an event history design, this work considers internal features, such as postsecondary institutional characteristics and Promise program factors, and diffusion factors that contribute to the timing of the introduction of a single-institution Promise program. Methodologically, results are presented using Kaplan-Meier curves, Cox proportional hazard models, and parametric survival models.

By considering one specific kind of program – single Promise programs that can only be used at one postsecondary institution – the project contributes to the literature by clearly identifying comparable Promise programs based on structure and design. By testing the effects of multiple programs in a single study, this research also enables a more robust understanding and comparison of programs than has been possible in prior literature. In addition, this study considers the temporal nature of the introduction of Promise programs, a feature of these programs that has not yet been explored in the literature.