Study: Year-Round Pell Boosts Enrollment, Completion for Community College Students

By Allie Bidwell, Communications Staff

As little as $1,000 in additional grant aid each year can have an impact for community college students by increasing the likelihood they will enroll in summer courses, as well as the likelihood they will complete their degree programs, according to a new study.

The study – written by Vivian Yuen Ting Liu and published by the Community College Research Center at Teacher’s College, Columbia University – found that for each $1,000 community college students received in year-round Pell Grants (YRP), the likelihood they enrolled in summer courses increased by 27 percentage points, and the likelihood they completed their associate degree programs increased by 2.2 percentage points. Those gains were particularly noticeable among older students who enrolled at age 20 or above.

“As both college tuition and the enrollment of nontraditional students continue to rise, policies that can help students graduate in a timely matter [sic] become increasingly important,” the study said.

The news comes at a time when some schools are again implementing YRP this summer. Congress in May passed a spending package that restored funding for YRP, which was previously in place during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years. However, the new iteration of YRP came with some changes in the administration of the grants – specifically in assigning summer crossover periods.

Given the return of YRP, Liu’s study examines several other causal effects of receiving the additional grant aid, including short-term credit accumulation, credential attainment, financial aid disbursements, and earnings during subsequent terms in college.

Overall, Liu found that students who were eligible for YRP saw increased credit accumulation, higher completion rates, and increased earnings, with larger gains among older students.

“This study shows that when provided an incentive, more students enroll in courses in the summer term in addition to the fall and spring semesters,” the study said. “In fact, as tuition continues to rise, finding ways to attend college year-round may become increasingly important for students with high credit constraints.”

 

Publication Date: 7/17/2017


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