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Impact of Targeted Tuition-Free Programs

December 11, 2018

A new paper examining tuition-free programs targeted at high-achieving low-income high school students found increases in students applying to and enrolling in college.

The paper was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research and was based on a study by researchers at the University of Michigan, Syracuse University and the College Board. The researchers examined what happened when low-income students with high grade point averages and scores on college entrance exams that met University of Michigan standards were encouraged to apply to the institution and offered four years of free tuition and fees upon admission. Students were not required to complete a federal financial aid package to receive the offer.

The study found that students who received the offer were more likely to attend the university, thereby increasing the number of low-income students at selective institutions. The attendance rate at Michigan is 88 percent among upper-income students, 85 percent among low-income students who received the offer and 81 percent among low-income students in the control group, according to the study.

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Ashley A. Smith

Ashley A. Smith, Reporter, covers community colleges, for-profit schools and non-traditional students for Inside Higher Ed. She joined the publication in 2015 after covering government and K-12 education for the Fort Myers News-Press in Florida for three years. Ashley also covered K-12 and higher education for three years at the Marshfield News-Herald in Wisconsin. She has interned with The Flint Journal, USA Today and the Detroit Free Press. Ashley grew up in Detroit and is a 2008 graduate of Michigan State University. 

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