Panel: Evidence on the Role of Student Supports in College Access and Success

Saturday, November 10, 2018: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Madison A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Alina Martinez, Mathematica Policy Research
Discussants:  Marsha Silverberg, U. S. Department of Education

Expanding Low-Income Students’ College Options through Enhanced College Advising
Alina Martinez1, Tamara Linkow2, Hannah Miller2 and Amanda Parsad2, (1)Mathematica Policy Research, (2)Abt Associates, Inc.

Supporting Low-Income Students to Succeed in College: A Mixed Methods Examination of the Dell Scholars Program
Stacy Kehoe, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lindsay C. Page, University of Pittsburgh

Financial Worry and Academic Performance
Jirs Meuris1, Cait Lamberton2 and Carrie Leana2, (1)University of Wisconsin, Madison, (2)University of Pittsburgh

Earning a college degree can be important for an individuals’ future well-being, as college graduates earn more, are less likely to suffer job losses in a recession, and are projected to have superior long-term labor market prospects (U.S. Census Bureau 2014).  Nationally, 69 percent of high school graduates enroll in college immediately after high school (MacFarland et al. 2017), yet over one-third of college enrollees do not complete a degree within six years (NSC, 2018), and rates are even lower for low-income students and students of color (Soldner 2011).

Increasingly, the summer after high school graduation and the first year of college are receiving attention as important periods of transition and adjustment  because many students intending to enroll do not (Castleman and Page 2014), and those who do enroll often drop out during their first year or fail to re-enroll the second year (National Student Clearinghouse, 2014). Information gaps, logistical complexities, and students’ concerns about their own capabilities and the costs of college may lead them to exit the academic pipeline. A growing body of research provides promising evidence that certain types of informational, behavioral, financial, and psychological supports can be effective in increasing the college enrollment and persistence rates of students (Castleman and Page 2015; Castleman and Page 2016; Clotfelter, Hemelt and Ladd 2017; Hoxby and Turner 2013; Roderick et al. 2008; Scrivener et al., 2015; Walton and Cohen 2011; Yeager et al. 2014).

The papers in this panel examine how innovative supports and programs provided to students before and during college impact students’ college outcomes. The first paper looks at how a set of college advising strategies grounded in promising research and implemented before college and throughout the first year impacts students participating in a federal college access program. The second paper tests the efficacy of different behavioral frames for informational text messages, “nudges,” in a free community college context. The third paper provides quantitative and qualitative information about how a program that combines financial support and advising throughout college operates and impacts students’ college completion. Examining a low-cost, short duration text message intervention, the fourth paper provides insight into how technology can be harnessed to ease students’ worries about paying for college and in turn increase their academic achievement. Together the findings from these papers contribute to our understanding about effective mechanisms to increase college enrollment and completion rates, particularly among students with historically low college degree attainment rates.

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