Recruiting and Supporting Low-Income, High-Achieving Students at Flagship Universities
We study two interventions in Texas that were designed to overcome multiple hurdles faced by low-income, high-ability college students. The Longhorn Opportunity Scholars (LOS) and Century Scholars (CS) programs recruited at specified low-income high schools, provided additional financial aid, and enhanced support services once enrolled in college if students attended University of Texas - Austin or Texas A&M - College Station, respectively. These flagship institutions are widely regarded as the top public universities in Texas. Using administrative data that links K-12, postsecondary, and earnings records for Texas public college students, we find via difference-in-differences estimates that the LOS program had a large, positive effect on high-achievers: attendance at UT-Austin increased by 2.2 percentage points (81%), and the likelihood of graduating from UT-Austin increased by 1.7 percentage points (87%). Twelve or more years post-high school, earnings of those exposed to LOS rose by 4.0%. These results entirely come from women, who saw enrollment at UT-Austin increase by 4.0 percentage points, graduation from UT-Austin increase by 2.6 percentage points and earnings increase by 6.1%. We find no evidence that the CS program affected any postsecondary or labor market outcomes. These results indicate that targeted recruitment combined with adequate supports and financial aid can substantially increase enrollment of low-income students in higher quality colleges and improve labor market outcomes. However, the differences in the LOS and CS program effects highlight the importance of understanding how to design these programs to maximize their impact on students.
We gratefully acknowledge that this research was made possible through data provided by the University of Texas at Dallas Education Research Center. The conclusions of this research do not necessarily reflect the opinions or official position of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, or the State of Texas. We would also like to thank Sara Muehlenbein, Alyssa Carlson and Mark Lu for excellent research assistance. We are further grateful for generous financial support for this project provided by the Greater Texas Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and the William T. Grant Foundation. Finally, we'd like to thank seminar participants at the Association for Education Finance and Policy Annual Meeting, Brookings Institution, CESifo Economics of Education Conference, Dalhousie University, Institute for Research on Poverty Summer Research Workshop, Michigan State University, Middle Tennessee State University, NBER Education Working Group Meeting, Society of Labor Economists Annual Meeting, the Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Syracuse/Cornell Summer Education Seminar, United States Military Academy, University of Michigan, University of Rochester, University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University for helpful comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Rodney J. Andrews & Scott A. Imberman & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2019. "Recruiting and supporting low-income, high-achieving students at flagship universities," Economics of Education Review, . citation courtesy of