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Although a wealth of research has shown that financial aid reduces hurdles to college enrollment, relatively little is known about how aid affects students after they are enrolled, much less how students react to the common occurrence of losing aid midway through their college careers. Using longitudinal data on four cohorts of Tennessee public college students, we find that failing to renew merit scholarships decreases credit loads, decreases the likelihood of declaring a major, increases labor force participation and earnings while enrolled, and increases the likelihood of leaving college without a degree for the workforce. Together, findings suggest that losing financial aid weakens students’ engagement with college, particularly at the extensive margin.
Citation: Celeste Carruthers, Umut Özek (2013). Losing HOPE: Financial Aid and the Line Between College and Work. CALDER Working Paper No. 91
This paper contributes to the empirical literature on remediation in community colleges by using policy variation across North Carolina’s community colleges to examine how remediation affects various outcomes for traditional-age college students. We find that being required to take a remedial course (as we define it in this paper) either in math or in English significantly reduces a student’s probability of success in college and also the probability that a student ever passes a college-level math or English course. Among students who are required to take a remedial course in their first semester, however, we find no adverse effects on the probability of returning for another semester. We also find differential effects by a student’s prior achievement level, family income and gender. Despite the difference in the methodologies, our main findings are generally consistent with, albeit somewhat more negative, than those from prior studies based on regression discontinuity designs.
Citation: Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd, Jacob Vigdor, Clara Muschkin (2013). Developmental Education in North Carolina Community Colleges. CALDER Working Paper No. 88
Stagnant earnings and growing inequality in the US labor market reflect both a slowdown in the growth of worker skills and the growing matching of good-paying jobs to skilled workers. Improving the ties between colleges, workforce institutions, and employers would help more workers gain the needed skills. Evaluation evidence shows that training programs linked to employers and good-paying jobs are often cost-effective. Helping more states develop such programs and systems would help raise worker earnings and reduce inequality.
Citation: Harry Holzer (2012). Good Workers for Good Jobs: Improving Education and Workforce Systems in the US. CALDER Working Paper No. 85
A considerable fraction of college students and bachelor's degree recipients attend multiple postsecondary institutions. Despite this fact, there is scant research that examines the nature of the paths – both the number and types of institutions – that students take to obtain a bachelor's degree or through the higher education system more generally. We also know little about how contact with multiple institutions of varying quality affects postgraduate life outcomes. We use a unique panel data set from Texas that allows us to both examine in detail the paths that students take towards a bachelor's degree and estimate how contact with multiple institutions is related to degree completion and subsequent earnings. We show that the paths to a bachelor's degree are diverse and that earnings and BA receipt vary systematically with these paths. Our results call attention to the importance of developing a more complete understanding of why students transfer and what causal role transferring has on the returns to postsecondary educational investment.
Citation: Rodney J. Andrews, Jing Li, Michael Lovenheim (2012). Heterogeneous Paths Through College: Detailed Patterns and Relationships with Graduation and Earnings. CALDER Working Paper No. 83
Community colleges are complex organizations and assessing their performance, though important, is difficult. Compared to four-year colleges and universities, community colleges serve a more diverse population and provide a wider variety of educational programs that include continuing education and technical training for adults, and diplomas, associates degrees, and transfer credits for recent high school graduates. Focusing solely on the latter programs of North Carolina’s community colleges, we measure the success of each college along two dimensions: attainment of an applied diploma, or degree; or completion of the coursework required to transfer to a four-year college or university. We address three questions. First, how much variation is there across the institutions in these measures of student success? Second, how do these measures of success differ across institutions after we adjust for the characteristics of the enrolled students? Third, how do our measures compare to the measures of success used by the North Carolina Community College System? We find that most of the system’s colleges cannot be statistically distinguished from one another along either dimension.
Citation: Charles Clotfelter, Helen Ladd, Clara Muschkin, Jacob Vigdor (2012). Success in Community College: Do Institutions Differ?. CALDER Working Paper No. 74
This paper is the first to explore the effects of school accountability systems on high-achieving students' long-term performance. Using data from a large state university, we relate school accountability pressure in high school to a student's university-level grades and study habits. We find that an accountability system based on a low-level test of basic skills apparently led to reduced performance by high-achieving students, while an accountability system based on a more challenging criterion-referenced exam apparently led to improved performance in college on mathematics and other technical subjects. Both types of systems are associated with increased "cramming" by students in college. The results indicate that the nature of an accountability system can influence its effectiveness.
Citation: Colleen Donovan, David Figlio, Mark Rush (2007). Cramming: The Effects of School Accountability on College-Bound Students. CALDER Working Paper No. 7