Resources

AIR’s Dr. Rachel Dinkes joined panelists from academia, policymaking, and the U.S. higher education system to discuss who should foot the bill as postsecondary education expands in the United States.

In this journal article, researchers discuss findings from a study investigating the effect of students losing merit-based HOPE scholarships midway through college. The findings suggest that losing one’s scholarship results in a small degree of detachment from college and a rise in earnings of about 14 cents per dollar of lost aid but no affect on timely degree completion.

This journal article provides a review of causes and policy solutions of two equity problems: (a) Too many college students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the United States do not complete their coursework with any college credential, whereas others earn degrees or certificates with little labor market value; and (b) many of these students also struggle to pay for college, and some incur debts that they have difficulty repaying. Solutions include those focused on both individual students and institutional reform.

This journal article discusses a study that used data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the Delta Cost Project to identify institutional predictors of bachelor’s degree completion rates for Pell Grant recipients and nonrecipients at public and private not-for-profit 4-year institutions. The results suggest that Pell Grant recipients are relatively concentrated in institutions with demographic and structural characteristics associated with lower completion rates, including lower SAT scores, enrollment, and residential intensity.

In this journal article, scholars of higher education and public policymakers describe promising directions for postsecondary reform. They argue that it is essential to redefine postsecondary education and consider a broader range of learning opportunities—beyond the research university and traditional bachelor degree programs—to include community colleges, occupational certificate programs, and apprenticeships. The authors also emphasize the need to rethink policies governing financial aid, remediation, and institutional funding to promote degree completion.

Projects

AIR, under a grant funded by Walmart, conducted a scan of free college tuition program websites in spring 2021. This scan culminated in a project website, which contains an interactive map, a report, a downloadable database of programs, and a webinar that explores how free college tuition programs for adults might better leverage employers in establishing and advancing programs.

AIR created an online tool that allows users in Utah to view the return on investment associated with completing a degree from a particular state institution, in a particular major, at a particular level. Researchers incorporated data from multiple sources, including statewide completion data, data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Gallup, and more, to build the tool. The goal of the tool was to present the state’s educational outcome data in a way that makes it easy for users to compare and make decisions about their educational path.

Researchers from AIR administered a survey to participants of the Keystone Scholars program, a statewide Child Development Account (CDA) program created by the Pennsylvania Treasury Department. The aims of the study were to capture parents’ expectations for their child’s educational future within the first year of their child’s life and to gather information on parents’ financial knowledge, assets, and savings behavior, as well as demographic information. 

Since 2014, AIR has developed a list of colleges and universities for Money’s College Rankings, an annual consumer-facing tool. The aims of the project are to develop an accurate, comprehensive list of colleges and universities to inform students and their families about quality, affordable, and high-value college options.

AIR, in collaboration with Development Services Group, Inc., sought to identify the effects of financial grant aid on students' postsecondary success by conducting a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of 87 studies and over 700 effect sizes. The results indicated that aid has the largest impact on college enrollment, resulting in a 2 percent increase in initial enrollment. Further, results of 40 studies showed that aid results in a 0.5 percent increase in college completion, which when translated to the US population of college-going students, would have resulted in 30,000 more students graduating in 2019.