Encouraging community college students to enroll in summer courses
Most community colleges students do not take courses in the summer. But students attending part time can speed up their degree completion in summer, and the term helps students keep momentum and prevent drop-out between spring and fall.
Only about 20 percent of students at the colleges in our study enrolled in summer. Students and staff noted a lack of financial aid as one reason students do not enroll, but data revealed that most in the study (79 percent) had Pell Grant funding remaining that could be used to pay for the summer term. Using this insight and others collected during a diagnosis period, CABS designed and tested two interventions.
The first intervention was an informational campaign delivered by email and mail. In one email and mailing, we used a cost calculator we created in collaboration with financial aid offices to send students estimates of how much Pell Grant funding each had available to pay for summer courses.
The second intervention was a similar informational campaign, but paired with a “last-dollar” grant that covered the difference between students’ summer tuition and fees and any Pell Grant funding they had available.
The project, like most in CABS, was evaluated through a randomized controlled trial, which found that the informational campaign increased summer enrollment by 5.5 percentage points. The informational campaign paired with the last-dollar grant did better: It increased enrollment by 14.6 percentage points. CABS is now building on these lessons to use similar strategies all year round to keep students enrolled.