A Difference-in-Difference Examination of Tennessee Promise's Influence on Community College Enrollment by Student Adjusted Gross Income

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Texas Education Review


We utilize a difference-in-difference design to examine the effect of adopting a statewide promise program on the enrollment of community college students across socio-economic status. Limited by a small sample size for treated units, we find inferential evidence that the adoption of a state-wide, last-dollar promise program for community colleges with no merit-based or need-based criteria raised the enrollment of in-state first-time-in-college, full-time students in their first year of college from families that earned between $0 and $75,000 in adjusted gross income. Effect sizes were largest for students from the lowest SES group ($0 to $30,000) approximately 168 additional students enrolled per 2-year institution per year following Tennessee Promise program adoption. Findings controlled for year-to-year variations in unemployment and state price parities. We discuss benefits and concerns regarding scholarships such as the Tennessee Promise that increase enrollment for lower-income students but do not affect the amount of financial aid included in their award packages in practice.



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