Do High College Costs Depress Student Achievement in K12?
New research suggests that perceptions of college affordability can influence student motivation and academic performance as early as seventh grade. Rising costs can become yet another deadweight on poor students' performance.
Researchers provided low-income Chicago 7th-graders in two randomly selected classrooms with one of two kinds of information: Classroom A received information about need-based financial aid opportunities, indicating that college was a possibility for them while Classroom B was provided information about the enormous costs associated with a college education, indicating that college was not a viable option (specifically they were told that the average college tuition costs $31,160 to $126,792).
The researchers then assessed students' motivation levels and mentality towards school using questionnaires about goals, grades, and time usage.
The students in Classroom A expected to do better in school and planned to put more effort into studying and homework, compared to the students in Classroom B, who did not view college as a realistic possibility.
In a sensitivity analysis the researchers repeated the study with Detroit classrooms, and changed the second condition from info about college costs to no info at all. Results again indicated that students provided financial aid information had a more open mindset toward their future.
If reliable, the study has important implications:
- Students should receive information about college financial aid much earlier than high school. (Get that information to those control groups in Chicago and Detroit right away!);
- Efforts to control college costs and improve financial aid offerings may have important academic effects far upstream in K-12.
Of course, better financial aid information is not a miracle cure for low academic achievement among poor students. The study's researchers found that "the positive effects...were not as great for students with lower grade point averages."
Still, it seems both wise and humane to make college a feasible goal for low-income students. Say Yes to Education, a program that offers poor inner-city students comprehensive supports including college scholarships, has dramatically narrowed the college graduation gap in cities where it operates.
So the prospect of affordable college is important for all sorts of reasons. Let's just hope it doesn't become a false promise.
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- National PTA President Otha Thornton on the Common Core
- 2013 School Counselor of the Year Mindy Willard on the state of her profession
- Supervisor of Administration John Swang on saving money in energy costs
The views expressed in this website's interviews do not necessarily represent those of the Learning First Alliance or its members.
Every Student an Individual
Strong teacher commitment to rigorous, personalized instruction has lead to a higher graduation rate and greater participation in postsecondary learning opportunities for a racially and economically diverse New York high school. Learn more...
- ASCD Inservice
- AACTE's Ed Prep Matters
- ISTE Connects
- PTA's One Voice
- PDK Blog
- The EDifier
- School Board News Today
- Legal Clips
- Learning Forward’s PD Watch
- NAESP's Principals' Office
- NASSP's Principal's Policy Blog
- The Principal Difference
- ASCA Scene
- Always Something
- NSPRA: Social School Public Relations
- Transforming Learning
- AASA's The Leading Edge
- AASA Connects (formerly AASA's School Street)
- NEA Today
- Lily's Blackboard
What Else We're Reading
- DQC's The Flashlight
- Center for Teaching Quality
- The Answer Sheet
- Politics K-12
- U.S. Department of Education Blog
- John Wilson Unleashed
- The Core Knowledge Blog
- This Week in Education
- Inside School Research
- Teacher Leadership Today
- On the Shoulders of Giants
- Teacher in a Strange Land
- Teach Moore
- The Tempered Radical
- The Educated Reporter
- Taking Note
- Character Education Partnership Blog
- Why I Teach