The impact of a tuition credit program on Pell-eligible student outcomes
Research shows how important college is to upward economic mobility. Yet there are many barriers to getting into and completing college, most notably cost. Community colleges are frequently touted as a cost-effective path, whereby students begin at a community college and then transfer to a 4-year university. This research focuses on transfer students and Wisconsin’s Promise Tuition grants, a place-based scholarship which offers debt-free tuition assistance.
Over the past decade, more and more states and postsecondary institutions are offering such grants, yet there is virtually no research that focuses on their impact on transfer students, particularly transfer students’ degree completion. This project explores the intersection between transfer students, their perceptions related to college finances, and the design of Promise Tuition scholarships and grants by using a mixed methods study.
The first part utilizes student-level administrative data from the University of Wisconsin to examine course-taking patterns, credits attempted and completed, Grade Point Average, persistence rates, financial aid eligibility and receipt, and degrees conferred. The second part is a survey of a random sample of transfer students in order to elicit information regarding college experiences and finances. This rich case study promises to inform not only policy debates around college affordability and completion, but also our understanding of how the institutional structures of postsecondary education in the United States are supporting or inhibiting intergenerational mobility.