One decade after high school completion in the US, only 14 percent of students from low-income backgrounds have attained a bachelor’s degree, compared to 60 percent or more of their higher-income peers. This stark difference is driven by gaps in both college access and college success and is not explained away by differences in academic readiness for college. Many policy efforts to address this difference focus on a single barrier to postsecondary success, such as affordability. In this talk, I will share research investigating the Dell Scholars Program, which supports low-income, primarily first-generation college-goers more comprehensively by providing both scholarship aid and ongoing, proactive support and assistance “to address all of the emotional, lifestyle, and financial challenges that may prevent” college completion. Relying on strict cut-offs in the selection of Dell Scholars and by comparing selected students to peers with similar academic, demographic, and socioeconomic characteristics, we find that the program meaningfully improves college performance, persistence and success for the students selected as Dell Scholars. Although it serves only a few thousand students at any given time, several features of the Dell Scholars Program make it a potential model for efficiently improving the effectiveness of investments already being made to increase college success for low-income and first-generation college-goers throughout the US. This talk is based on research done in collaboration with Stacy Kehoe, Benjamin Castleman and Gumilang Sahadewo.
Lindsay Page is an Assistant Professor of research methodology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and a research scientist at Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center. Her work focuses on quantitative methods and their application to questions regarding the effectiveness of educational policies and programs across the pre-school to postsecondary spectrum. Much of her recent work has involved investigating innovative strategies for improving students’ progress to and through college. She holds a doctorate in quantitative policy analysis in education and master's degrees in statistics and in education policy from Harvard University.