States Leverage Financial Aid To Promote College Completion

Career College Central summary:

  • In an effort to get students through college faster and at higher rates, some states are tying financial aid dollars to student performance. New programs in at least two states, Indiana and Massachusetts, incentivize students to take and complete more credits, often with GPA requirements to boot. The strategy has proven successful in at least one state, West Virginia, since 2002.
  • This past spring, Indiana lawmakers allowed a new state program that awards financial aid as students progress toward their degrees. In Indiana, students can “stack” financial aid awards by meeting certain benchmarks, including maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA, and by electing to take credits beyond what’s required.
  • The effort requires significant manpower and collaboration. For example, one division of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education employs 11 staff members, including financial aid award team members, IT professionals, and researchers, who work to disburse state funds to eligible students. Implementing the program this fall has gone smoothly thanks to the buy-in of institutions across sectors and collaboration with their financial aid offices,.
  • Similar teamwork has helped a new pilot program in Massachusetts get off the ground. Currently being tested on 3,500 students at 11 public campuses, the financial aid incentive pilot will pay two- and four-year public college students up to $1,000 a semester for completing additional credits.

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