Survey Explores Financial Indicators That Impact Student Success

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff

Higher education institutions need to improve how they integrate students' financial choices and options with academic decisions to better help students understand the impact those decisions can have on their success, according to a survey released Thursday.

The survey — done in partnership between the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (CUSU) and the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU) — included responses from Temple University, Florida International University, Georgia State University, Portland State University, and the University of Chicago at Illinois.

According to the survey results, students made several decisions that had a "significant" impact on their behavior related to academic progress, including repeating, dropping, or withdrawing from courses. They also made decisions that impacted their financial behaviors, including choosing live on campus, completing the FAFSA, and failing to meet deadlines or seek financial assistance in a timely manner.

The participating schools also used predictive modeling to try to determine how financial risk impacts student success. Overall, each institution reported that unmet financial need was a "significant challenge," with a reported average of 50 percent of the schools' entering students struggling with unmet need. Some of the institutions' financial indicators that had an impact on student success, according to the survey, include Pell Grant eligibility, the loss of financial aid, and whether or not a student works full-time.

The institutions also shared what strategies they have used or are currently using to promote retention and graduation. While the list totaled 66 academic, social, and administrative strategies, there were 26 common strategies that all five schools utilized, which can be organized into 10 categories:

  • Need-based aid
  • Academic resources or services
  • Non-curricular financial literacy
  • Literacy courses
  • Counseling
  • Increasing financial awareness of student financial difficulties
  • Outreach to parents and families
  • FAFSA completion
  • Alternative for textbooks
  • Assistance with student employment

According to the report of the survey, institutions need to do more to help students understand the impact their decisions can have on their academic success and financial stability. One recommendation is that institutions find ways to provide additional grant support and funding. Other recommendations include linking funding renewal to student progress and academic advising; offering students personal financial literacy courses that count as credit toward their degree; and make financial aid information easier to find and accessible to students.


Publication Date: 4/1/2016

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