We have seen that, among Virginia’s public, 4-year college programs, the graduation rate of Pell grantees correlates strongly with the overall graduation rate of the school. We also have seen that (federal) Pell and (state) Commonwealth award holders on average graduate at lower rates than students who receive no financial aid. As well, the data show that students receiving other forms of support graduate, on average, at higher rates than students with no aid.
Here we look at the 4-, 5-, and 6-year cohort graduation rates of the 2010-11 cohort of first time in college students at our Big Hitter universities. These data count graduations anywhere, not just at the starting institutions.
The All Students rates look like this:
The rates for students who do not receive any financial support are similar but mostly lower.
The differences between the two rates show some considerable differences between schools (and emphasize that averages do not tell the whole story).
The Pell grantees graduate at still lower rates (UVa excepted).
Or, in terms of the Pell rate vs. the no-support rate:
Here we see Pell grantees underperforming the no-support group except in the fifth and sixth years at THE University. It seems that UVa’s selection process works even better for Pell students than for the students who pay their own way. VCU is another story.
The other group we have seen to underperform on average are the Commonwealth Award grantees.
UVa and W&M report no grantees (or at least fewer then ten; see the SCHEV suppression rules). Tech and Mason outperform here; VCU does not.
The athletic awards show a much different pattern.
Those are large differences. At six years, VCU graduated 13.7% more of its athletes than of its no-support students. Tech, 18.4% fewer.
BTW: At five and six years, W&M graduated 100% of the supported athletes. Consistent with its high overall rate, UVa graduated 90.2% at five years, 92% at six.
Next, here are the results for the other grant programs whose grantees, averaged over Virginia’s 4-year programs, outperformed the no-support group:
Perkins (Federal program for students enrolled in career & technical ed. programs):
Subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans:
Tuition waiver programs (mostly for employees and families; some for “older” citizens):
SCHEV-operated VGAP awards:
Notice the relatively high rate of 4-year degrees (and the widespread overperformance) among the work-study students.
Doubtless there are multiple factors driving these results. We might expect those to include the granting process, the selectivity of the school, the pool from which a school draws, and probably other factors.
Nonetheless these data suggest some tentative conclusions:
- UVa and W&M are skimming the cream from the population of students who receive financial support;
- As the earlier data suggested, the SCHEV-run VGAP awards are much more effective, in most cases, than the school-run Commonwealth awards;
- Some schools run counter to the average underperformance of the Pell and Commonwealth grantees (e.g., UVa on Pell; Tech and Mason on Commonwealth); and
- VCU’s relatively high graduation rate of athletes might suggest either careful selection and nurturing or corrupt grading practices. It would be good to know which.