Panel: Promise Programs: Short and Long-Term Impacts and Program Heterogeneity

Saturday, November 9, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 14 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Lily Fesler, Stanford University
Panel Chair:  Lori Taylor, Texas A&M University
Discussants:  Jonathan Smith, Georgia State University and Steven W. Hemelt, University of North Carolina

Attending college has important long-term implications for students’ future income and happiness (Ma, Pender, & Welch, 2016). However, college has become increasingly expensive, meaning many low- and middle-income students have to choose between not attending college and taking out increasing amounts of student loans (Ma & Baum, 2017). Promise programs have been touted as a potential solution to helping students afford increasingly expensive postsecondary institutions. These place-based programs cover all or part of students’ college tuition if they have lived or attended secondary school in a particular location. Results from early programs show that Promise programs can increase both college enrollment and college completion (Bartik, Hershbein & Lachowska, 2017; Carruthers & Fox, 2016). However, we still know little about how the impacts of Promise programs may vary, or how Promise programs may affect longer-term outcomes.

Three of our papers provide evidence on how the impacts of Promise programs vary by program and student characteristics. One paper uses data from the College Board and the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) to examine how the effects of Promise programs on college enrollment and graduation vary by institution type covered (e.g. two- versus four-year institutions), program intensity (i.e. the subsidy amount), and by student characteristics. A second paper examines how the effects of Oregon Promise vary by student characteristics, finding that students with a moderate probability of attending college are most likely to be induced to attend a two-year institution. A third paper studies how different funding structures in Promise programs may affect student persistence. Using data from the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, this paper shows that students are just as likely to persist in college if their funding increases each year that they remain enrolled in college (relative to receiving the same amount each year).

Two of our papers also provide evidence on how Promise programs may affect longer-term financial and workforce outcomes. One paper uses data from the Quarterly Workforce Indicators and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages to investigate the impacts of six Promise programs on employment growth, hiring rates, and separating rates. Another paper uses credit report data from TransUnion to investigate the impacts of Promise programs on student debt and delinquency, as well as other financial outcomes like home and auto debt.

Together, these papers expand our understanding of the contexts in which Promise programs may be the most effective, and whether these effects translate to longer-term financial and workforce outcomes.

How a Change in Funding Structure of a Broad-Based Scholarship Program Affects Student Post-Secondary Outcomes
Katherine M. Kopotic, University of Arkansas, Jonathan N. Mills, Tulane University and Evan Rhinesmith, Saint Louis University

Promise Program Impacts on Enrollment, Graduation, and Debt
Lily Fesler, Stanford University and Matea Pender, The College Board

Local Promise Programs and Employment Dynamics
Brad Hershbein1, Nathan Sotherland1, Edward Smith2, Jing Cai3 and Lily Fesler4, (1)W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, (2)Kresge Foundation, (3)University of Maryland, (4)Stanford University

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