SCHEV has some more granular data: Here, to sample that pool, are the 4-, 5-, and 6-year completion rates for the 2010-11, first-time-in-college cohort in Virginia’s 4-year programs. The data count degrees completed at any institution.
Let’s look at each of those groups (and its six-year rate):
- Military survivor/dependent awards: 86.9%. Tuition and fees waived at Virginia public institutions for survivors and dependents of certain military service members.
- Perkins Grants: 86.3%. Federal program for students enrolled in Career & Technical Education programs.
- PLUS Loans: 83.2%. Loans from US Education Dept. toward cost of attendance, minus other financial aid.
- Athletic awards: 83.1%. (Go figure!)
- Stafford Loans: 82.9% unsubsidized; 81.5% subsidized. This is the federal student load program. Subsidized loans, available to students with demonstrated financial need; the feds pay the interest while the student is in school. Borrowers are responsible for all the interest on unsubsidized loans.
- Work-Study: 81.4%. Program for federal + institutional support to provide part time employment for needy students.
- VGAP award: 81.4%. Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program for Virginia residents, administered by SCHEV.
- Tuition Waiver: 77.9%. Mostly institutional programs for faculty and employees. E.g., VCU (note: my browser complains of a bad site certificate here), UVa. But see mature (they say “older”) citizens.
- No financial aid: 77.6%.
- Pell grants: 69.1%.
- Commonwealth Award: 65.0%. State funds for undergraduates with financial need; appropriated directly to state-supported institutions.
There are several surprises here. One that jumps out is that Commonwealth Awards are subsidizing failure at a rate even higher than the Pell grants.
The military awards are not a surprise. In my experience, at least, veterans are different from, and much more serious than, most other students. Doubtless veterans’ spouses and dependents partake of that difference.
In Virginia’s 4-year programs, both scholarship athletes and students with federal loans graduate at higher rates than students with no financial aid.
The SCHEV-administered VGAP graduation rate shines in comparison to the Pell and the school-administered Commonwealth Award rates. Perhaps it’s time to reallocate that Commonwealth Awards money.
And the major takeaway: Perkins! We need more plumbers, electricians, network admins, and auto mechanics and this program looks to be effective in getting them educated. Indeed, the 4-year rate is exceptional. These data suggest some places where it might be wise to reallocate funds to Perkins grants.