Promising Practice: Private Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-06-22.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                                                                      I    :
-*-o-                I~~lit,ed States   General       Accounting   Office

GAO                  Report to the Chairman, Commit&t! on
                     Labor and Human Resources, tJ.S.

                     Private Programs
                     Guaranteeing Student
                     Aid for Higher


                       REsTRIcTED--      Not to be released outside the
                       General Accounting OBlce unless specifically
                       approved by the Offlce of Congressional
                                                              WeEASED :
                                  W80\            \                   -,.,
GAO/I%M   L’NO- 16
Program Evaluation and
Methodology Division


June 22,199O

The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
Chairman, Committee on Labor and Human Resources
United States Senate

Dear Mr. Chairman:

In recent years, various individuals and private-sector organizations have established new
guaranteed student aid and support programs to help disadvantaged students. At your
request, we examined these programs to determine their characteristics, the key issues
facing them-and likely to face others considering starting similar efforts-and    their results
so far. The programs are not federally funded, but they do provide an important perspective
on federal efforts to increase access to postsecondary education.

As requested by officials in many of the programs we studied, and as agreed with the
Committee, we do not identify responses from specific programs. We did, however, find
officials in participating programs to be most helpful during the course of our evaluation. As
agreed with the Committee, we did not obtain official agency comments or comments from
the programs.

As we arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents of this report
earlier, we plan no further distribution of it until 30 days from the date of the report. At that
time, copies will be sent to the Department of Education and others who are interested and
will be made available to others who request them.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please call me at (202) 275
1864 or Kwai-Cheung Chart, Director of Program Evaluation in Human Services Areas, at
(202) 2761370. Other major contributors to this report are listed in appendix III.

Sincerely yours,

Eleanor Chelimsky
Assistant Comptroller General
Ekecutive Summary

                   Minority youth continue to enroll in higher education at rates that are
Purpose            lower than those for white students. Minority young people, often from
                   poor families, may be uncertain about how to pay for higher education;
                   may be poorly prepared in high school; may not fully understand the
                   link between higher education, jobs, and earnings; or may rely on alter-
                   native paths to income. To change these patterns, private individuals
                   and organizations started programs in the 1980’s that offer disadvan-
                   taged students early notice of guaranteed financial aid for college and,
                   often, additional academic and other support in preparation for further
                   education. Early positive reports on a few programs drew wide atten-
                   tion but little formal evaluation.

                   The Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources asked GAO to
                   review the current tuition-guarantee programs to determine their char-
                   acteristics, the key issues facing them-and likely to face others consid-
                   ering starting similar efforts-and    their results so far.

                   Effective ways to increase the rates of high school graduation and col-
Background         lege attendance remain elusive. Academic preparation for college
                   requires selection of particular classes as early as ninth grade; school
                   completion requires persistence in the face of many obstacles, some-
                   times including peer pressure against academic effort; and college
                   attendance requires surmounting yet additional hurdles, such as com-
                   pleting complex applications and paying the bills. Diverse public and
                   private organizations work to increase the high school graduation and
                   college attendance rates of poor and minority youth in many ways (for
                   example, through tutoring or scholarships). In addition, such targeted
                   federal programs as student financial aid and Upward Bound have been
                   in existence for many years.

                   Some, though not all, of the guaranteed-tuition programs of the 1980’s
                   differ from earlier programs in that they constitute comprehensive
                   efforts, starting early in the school career, to increase the chances of
                   academic success for disadvantaged youths. These new programs com-
                   bine a financial aid guarantee, personal and often intense mentoring,
                   and a wide range of program elements aimed at increasing both motiva-
                   tion and academic skills so that school success would come to be both
                   valued and feasible.

                         found the private sector programs promising because of their par-
Results in Brief   GAO
                   ticipants’ significant efforts, the generally plausible program designs,

                   Page 2        GAO/PEMD-96-16 Programs Guarauteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                     Executive Summary

                     and some early indications of results. Thus, it would be reasonable for
                     others to make further attempts along these lines. But what about the
                     questions of whether tuition-guarantee programs increase the access of
                     disadvantaged students to higher education and which of several dif-
                     ferent models of such programs are most cost-effective in improving
                     educational motivation and accomplishments for these students? GAO
                     found that only modest data are being kept and evaluation efforts are
                     uncertain. If this situation does not change, the answers to these ques-
                     tions about the effectiveness of tuition-guarantee programs will not be

                     GAO  found four quite different types of programs that represent dif-
                     ferent strategies concerning how early the intervention should start,
                     what type and size of student participant group should be formed, how
                     strong the financial incentive should be, and how intensive project ser-
                     vices should be. The most comprehensive are typically “sponsorship”
                     programs, in which one individual or organizational donor starts to pro-
                     vide intensive academic help, mentoring (personal support), and other
                     services to a small, broad-based (that is, not selected based on prior aca-
                     demic performance) group of students. The least intense are typically
                     “pay-for-grades” programs, in which a donor provides few services but
                     puts modest funds, based on students’ grades, into accounts for use later
                     in paying higher-education expenses.

                     These programs are new. They presently reach only a tiny fraction of
                     the nation’s disadvantaged students. However, some of them appear to
                     be achieving an important success in keeping the selected student
                     groups intact and in school. This is a critical precondition for any other
                     effects. Some program components -especially the early intervention,
                     personal mentoring, and intensive academic help in “sponsorship” pro-
                     grams-seem to have the potential to markedly increase motivation and

                            survey data show that in 198889 at least 42,496 students now in
Principal Findings   GAO'S
                     school were involved in tuition-guarantee programs. At least 2,884 addi-
                     tional students now in postsecondary education received a total of $1.6
                     million in tuition benefits. Thirty-nine programs reported a total endow-
                     ment of $22.7 million to support future tuition payments. GAO found
                     major differences across four types of programs, including the number
                     of students involved, the extent of services offered, and annual oper-
                     ating expenses.

                     Page 3          GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education

Program Differences   “Sponsorship” programs were the most common of the tuition-guarantee
                      programs, begun either by individuals or organizations. The founder
                      typically selects one or two complete classrooms of students at elemen-
                      tary or junior high school level, guarantees postsecondary tuition, and
                      usually agrees to serve as personal mentor for the young people through
                      the school years and to pay for support staff and related programming.
                      These programs provide the most intensive educational services to the
                      participating precollege students of the four program types. In 1988-89,
                      37 sponsorship programs responding to GAO'S survey (a rate of 53 per-
                      cent) served 3,617 students at an average cost per year of $923 per stu-
                      dent. Few have graduated students or paid out guaranteed tuition yet.
                      However, most do report success in retaining their students in school
                      thus far. GAO also saw examples of substantial extra academic help for
                      students that could make a big difference.

                      “Last-dollar” programs help high school juniors and seniors learn about
                      and apply for student aid, and also guarantee students the remaining
                      assistance (the last dollars) needed to attend postsecondary school after
                      all other sources of assistance have been exhausted. Staff of twelve last-
                      dollar programs responding to our survey (a rate of 92 percent) reported
                      that in 1988-89 they advised nearly 17,000 students at an average cost
                      per year of $431 per student, and also paid out $1.54 million in grants to
                      2,389 students now in higher education. They offer few other sup-
                      portive services. Several have been in operation for some years and
                      have helped many students, but lack evidence (other than participants’
                      opinions) of the unique impact of these efforts.

                      “University-based” programs may guarantee admissions and tuition at a
                      particular institution and also offer mentoring and other services while
                      selected or volunteer students complete high school. A few universities
                      operate sponsorship programs to help a selected group through high
                      school and then guarantee tuition at any institution after graduation. In
                      1988-89, 16 university-based programs responded to GAO'S survey (a
                      rate of 67 percent), and their staff reported serving almost 1,900 stu-
                      dents with average annual expenses of $328. None of these programs
                      has begun giving tuition benefits to graduates, but the programs gener-
                      ally reported success in retaining students in school.

                      “Pay-for-grades” programs are the fourth type of tuition-guarantee pro-
                      gram. In these, the tuition funds are guaranteed only if a student
                      receives specified grades in school subjects. Staff from four of these pro-
                      grams (a 100 percent response rate) reported that in 1988-89 nearly
                      20,000 students received these rewards (payment into an account set

                      Page 4             GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                          Executive Summary

                          aside for future tuition), together with relatively few support services,
                          so that the average cost was only $111 per student. Because of the
                          modest incentive they offered and (in some cases) the large percentage
                          of nonwinners, such programs appeared least likely to affect disadvan-
                          taged youths’ college attendance rates. Nevertheless, pay-for-grades
                          programs reported paying out funds totaling $73,000 to nearly 500,high-
                          school graduates in 1988-89.

Implementation Problems   Current program staff predicted that others attempting such programs
                          would most often encounter problems finding funds to pay for current
                          services, to hire staff, and to fund the tuition guarantees. In addition,
                          they warned that maintaining contact with students was difficult. Spon-
                          sorship program staff often cited minimal cooperation or even resis-
                          tance from family members as a barrier, though GAO noted that parents
                          may reasonably resent the intrusion and competition that strong men-
                          tors may represent to a family.

Evaluation Shortcomings   GAO  found some negative attitudes concerning the merits of systematic
                          evaluation, especially of the more complex sponsorship programs.
                          Respondents from most programs did report collecting some data,
                          including students’ school progress and grades. Data collection seems to
                          be lagging or absent, however, on other key items, such as test scores,
                          school attendance, family information, and the support services used by
                          students. The programs’ current data-collection efforts do not appear to
                          constitute comprehensive, systematic evaluations. GAO judges such eval-
                          uation to be essential and suggests the need for a comparison-group
                          design. Until evidence from such evaluations is available, conclusions
                          about the effectiveness of tuition-guarantee programs will continue to
                          be tentative and qualified.

                          This report contains no recommendations.

                          GAO   did not request formal comments on a draft of this report.
Agency Comments

                          Page 6          GAO/PEMD-99-16 Program Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education

Executive Summary                                                                                             2

Chapter 1                                                                                                    8
Introduction                Objectives, Scope, and Methodology
                            Study Strengths and Limitations
                            Organization of the Report                                                      16

Chapter 2                                                                                                   17
Four Types of Tuition-      The Programs’ Underlying Assumptions
                            Major Differences Among the Programs
Guarantee Programs          The Programs in Practice                                                        23

Chapter 3                                                                                                   39
Issues in Programs’         Implementation Barriers and Success Factors
                            Four Dilemmas Programs Face
Growth and
Chapter 4                                                                                                   52
Evaluation Results to ResultsSoFar                                                                          52
Date and the Chances Learning   FromExperience                                                              56
                      Hypothetical Costs and Benefits                                                       60
of Learning More
Chapter 5                                                                                                   62
Surnmary and                Current Programs
                            Implementation Barriers and Success Factors
Conclusions                 Programs’ Results So Far                                                        63
                            Evaluation Plans and Data Collection                                            64
                            Conclusions                                                                     64

Appendixes                  Appendix I: External Advisory Panel                                              66
                            Appendix II: Suggestions for Evaluation Data Collection                          67
                                and Design
                            Appendix III: Major Contributors to This Report                                  70

Tables         u            Table 1.1: Methodological Challenges in Evaluating                               12
                                Tuition-Guarantee Programs

                            Page 0        GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education

    Table 1.2: Tuition-Guarantee Programs by Type and                                  13
         Response to Our Survey
    Table 1.3: Characteristics of Tuition-Guarantee Programs                           14
        We Visited
    Table 2.1: Programs’ Main Assumptions                                              20
    Table 2.2: Extent of Financial Incentives and Supportive                           23
        Services Provided by Four Types of Program
    Table 2.3: Summary of Programs on Selected Indicators                              23
    Table 3.1: Significant Barriers Other Programs Are Likely                          39
        to Encounter
    Table 3.2: Success Factors That Others Might Replicate                             42
    Table 4.1: Student Records Kept                                                    57
    Table 4.2: Average Annual Earnings of Persons 25-29, by                            61
        Education Level


    GAO        General Accounting Office
    WAD        I Have a Dream

    Page 7          GAO/PEMD-96-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
Chapter I


               The nation needs more and more workers with advanced education to
               spur economic growth and improve productivity, and individuals need
               more and more education to command high wages. Nevertheless, despite
               steady gains in rates of high school graduation, rates of attainment in
               higher education are only slowly rising, and minority attainment lags
               behind that of whites. In 1988, forty-five percent of young white indi-
               viduals had completed a year of college, while only 33 percent of blacks
               in the same age group (26-34) had done so; about 25 percent of young
               whites had completed 4 years of college, but only 13 percent of blacks in
               the same age group had done so.’ Differences by income are also dra-
               matic: studies tracing the high school class of 1980 found that among
               the brightest students, those with low family income were 20 to 26 per-
               cent less likely than their wealthier classmates to attend college, and
               within the average ability group, the lower-income students were 40
               percent less likely to go on to college. Thus, to some young people, espe-
               cially those in city schools, higher education may seem far out of reach:
               they may know few who went that far in school; they may be poorly
               prepared academically; and they may be uncertain about how to finance
               higher education.

               Beginning in the 1980’s, several hundred programs initiated from
               outside the schools have attempted to change these prevailing patterns
               by going beyond familiar scholarship programs and providing a combi-
               nation of guaranteed financial aid and other kinds of help. Individuals
               have sponsored whole classes of students beginning early in their school
               careers. For example, New York businessman Eugene Lang established
               the I Have a Dream (IHAD) program that offered a group of sixth graders
               a tuition guarantee and close supportive help through the rest of their
               school years. Business groups raised funds for financial aid counseling
               and tuition aid. Individual universities began working with recruited
               students at an early age and offered eventual full tuition benefits to
               those who would devote themselves to serious preparatory studies. The
               programs appear to have varied widely in their analyses of what young

               ‘With regard to long-term trends, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that the share
               of whites enrolled in higher education declined in the first half of the 1970’s, then held steady until it
               increased through the 1980’s. The proportion of black and Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in
               higher education increased also in the early 1970’s but declined in the second half of the decade. By
               the mid-1980’s, the rates for both groups were above those of the early 1970’s. Throughout the
               period, participation rates of blacks and Hispanics were consistently lower than those of whites, a
               steady gap neither narrowing nor widening. Concerning college completions, a gap is widening as
               recent growth in the young adult population (ages 18 to 34) outpaced degree growth to a much larger
               extent among blacks than among whites. The black young adult population grew 24 percent between
               1977 and 1986, but the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to blacks fell by 2 percent; in contrast,
               the white young adult population increased 9 percent, while the number of bachelors’ degrees
               increased 3 percent.

               Page 8               GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                            Chapter 1

                            people needed and in the resources brought to bear on the problems.2
                            However, early reports, such as those from Eugene Lang about his IHAD
                            program, have been encouraging in the areas of improved school com-
                            pletion and college-going rates for students who receive such compre-
                            hensive assistance.

                            Since one major goal of federal higher education policy has been to
                            increase access, it is of great importance to learn whether tuition-guar-
                            antee programs are also doing so, in order that they can be adopted
                            widely and thus influence future federal programs.

                            The Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources asked us to
Objectives, Scope,and       report on tuition-guarantee programs.3 As agreed with the Committee,
Methodology                 we concentrated chiefly on programs initiated in the private sector so
                            that our review would provide perspective on federal efforts to improve
                            access to postsecondary education. We asked several main questions:

                        l What are the characteristics of the programs?
                        l What are the key issues facing the programs now and likely to face
                          others starting similar programs in the future?
                        . What have been the programs’ results so far? If evaluation is premature
                          at this point, are data being gathered that will permit future evaluation?

                            This review represents a somewhat different approach, as we needed to
                            examine a set of programs where data on results are not yet available
                            for evaluation. Such early examination is warranted, however, in areas
                            of acute national concern. The goal is not to judge outcomes but to locate
                            and describe practices that appear soundly designed and worthy of
                            wider trial and to attempt, insofar as is possible, to assure their eventual

                            “In chapter 2, we discuss the assumptions underlying the design of some programs about causes of
                            low enrollment of poor and minority youth in higher education. There have been efforts to analyze
                            the scientific literature for explanations. For example, reviewing the decline in black high school
                            graduates’ college enrollment since the mid-1970’s, the National Academy of Sciencesexamined evi-
                            dence for five alternative explanations and concluded that a “decline in financial aid is the most
                            important factor,” though “increases in military enlistment may also be important.” See Gerald D.
                            Jaynes and Robin M. Williams, Jr. (eds.), A Common Destiny: Blacks in American Society (Wash-
                            ington, DC.: National Academy Press, 1989), pp. 338-346.

                            sBy agreement with the Committee, we did not include one type of program that involves a different
                            use of the term “guarantee.” These are tuition prepayment plans aimed primarily at middle-income
                            families able to save for college. In such plans, as established by a number of individual schools and
                            state systems in recent years, a parent pays tuition now for a youngster who will attend college some
                            years in the future. The parent is guaranteed that the amount paid will cover the school’s full cost at
                            a later date. These programs are described in the 1989 Survey of College Savings and Guaranteed
                            Tuition Plans (Denver: Education Commission of the States, 1989). See also Janet S. Hansen (ed.),
                            bllege Savings Plans: Public Policy Choices (New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 1990).

                            Page 9              GAO/PEMDBO-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                          Chapter 1

                          evaluation. We had a similar goal in our earlier review of AIDS educa-
                          tion programs4

The Programs We Studied   We attempted to gather data on all private sector tuition-guarantee pro-
                          grams6 We initially searched bibliographic data bases but found neither
                          analyses nor lists of such programs. We then developed our own com-
                          prehensive directory.6 Beginning in December 1988, we looked for any
                          current program that aimed to increase school motivation and comple-
                          tion by guaranteeing minority and disadvantaged students, prior to their
                          senior year, some or all of the funds needed for post-high-school educa-
                          tion, together with some supportive services. Starting with those tuition-
                          guarantee programs identified through a national search of newspaper
                          and magazine stories, we telephoned each program to establish its rele-
                          vance to our purpose and to learn of others. When we stopped our
                          search in July 1989, we had located 124 programs. In addition, because
                          the number of such programs is growing and there is no central source
                          of information about them, the number we did not survey is unknown.
                          However, we estimate there may be as many as 120 tuition-guarantee
                          programs in this latter category.7

                          By analyzing these 124 programs located nationwide, we identified four

                          4U.S. General Accounting Office, AIDS Education: Reaching Populations at Higher Risk, GAO/
                          PEMD-88-36 (Washington, DC.: September 1988).
                          “We learned of two related public efforts, neither of which was in full operation during the period of
                          our study. Crediting as its model the I Have a Dream projects, beginning in the 1991-92 school year,
                          New York state will expand its student aid package with a new grant program (called Liberty Schol-
                          arships) covering non-tuition costs of higher education. An additional program called Liberty Partner-
                          ships, started in 1989-90, enables schools and colleges to apply for competitive state grants for
                          mentorlng, counseling, and dropout prevention efforts. Rhode Island has announced a tuition-guar-
                          antee program that will be aimed at all 3,000 low-income third-grade students in the state. Called the
                          Children’s Crusade, it will be started as soon as endowment funds are raised.

                          “Many individuals we contacted expressed interest in learning of other similar programs. In response,
                          we prepared a directory of projects, including 61 that answered our survey and asked to be listed.
                          Copies are available from the Program Evaluation and Methodology Division of GAO.

                          7Several types of programs have sites throughout the country. The Merrill Lynch Corporation Scho-
                          IarshipBuilder 2000 program, established in collaboration with the Urban League affiliates In 10
                          cities, and the Ohio State University Young Scholar program, which has students in 9 Ohio cities,
                          identified all of their sites for us. Another major program, the I Have a Dream Foundation, which
                          includes about 130 sites, refused to identify their locations. Working independently, we could locate
                          only 47 of the latter. We may have missed lo-12 of each of the other three program types, for an
                          estimated total not included in our universe of about 120.

                          Page 10             GAO/PEMD-90-M Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Mucation
                          Chapter 1

                      .  “sponsorship,” in which an individual or organization selects one or
                        more classes of students (or sometimes individuals) at the elementary or
                        junior high level, guaranteeing postsecondary tuition and, in the case of
                        individual sponsors, usually agreeing to serve personally as a mentor
                        (or, in the case of organizations, arranging for something similar)
                        through the school years and to pay for support staff and services as
                      . “last-dollar,” in which students in high school are promised help in
                         applying for other student aid and are guaranteed the “last dollar” of
                         aid needed to attend postsecondary school;
                      . “university-based,” in which a specific university develops a program
                        with elements such as tutoring or other educational support, personal
                        mentoring, school-year and summer enrichment experiences, with the
                        tuition guarantee usable at that institution alone or, in some cases, at
                        any institution the student chooses; and
                      l  “pay-for-grades,” in which the tuition funds are earned if a student
                        receives specific grades in high school subjects, are placed in a special
                        account during the school years, and are paid out in increments after

The Methods We Used       Evaluating a new concept or approach in its early stages to determine if
                          it holds wider promise poses special methodological challenges. These
                          general challenges and our solutions to them in this particular study are
                          summarized in table 1.1. There are three major dilemmas: first, deter-
                          mining cause and effect, though always challenging, is especially diffi-
                          cult in evaluations of programs that are still developing and changing;
                          second, as evaluators we could not count on having needed data or even
                          basic records, since resources of young programs such as these are typi-
                          cally scarce and concentrated on services; and third, especially in this
                          case, key outcomes- such as high school graduation and college enroll-
                          ment and graduation- will not be known for many years.

                          Page 11        GAO/PEMD-90-M Programa Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                          Chapter 1

Table 1.1: Methodological Challenges in
Evaluating Tuition-Guarantee Programs     Challenge                                        What we did
                                          Programs’ early developmental stage means        Excluded those just starting; surveyed all
                                          change is constant, but evaluation of            programs nationwide, not just a sample (in
                                          potential requires a fairly stable description   order not to miss any with significant
                                          of the program                                   experience); visited the most stable
                                                                                           examples we could find; capitalized on
                                                                                           programs’ developmental stage by asking
                                                                                           practitioners for their own analyses of
                                                                                           barriers others would face in starting similar
                                          Resources are likely to be concentrated   on     Compared programs’ assumptions to
                                          service rather than data collection              determine stronger and weaker conceptual
                                                                                           bases; gathered data from observation, in
                                                                                           addition to mail survey responses; examined
                                                                                           proarams’ current data and evaluation plans
                                          Key outcomes will not be known for years         Examined intermediate outcomes, where
                                                                                           possible, in individual programs; aggregated
                                                                                           outcome observation data by type of
                                                                                           program for stronger inference

                                          We were able to help move the discussion of what can be learned from
                                          these programs beyond the stage of anecdote and self-report by pro-
                                          viding consistent data from our national survey to describe and compare
                                          programs on many dimensions, as well as independent first-hand obser-
                                          vations of programs in practice. These two kinds of data address impor-
                                          tant questions pertinent to replication and expansion: (1) results and
                                          costs to date, (2) the future data base that may exist for documenting
                                          success and understanding its origins, (3) unresolved issues facing the
                                          programs, and (4) barriers to expansion.

                                          Our analysis of programs in clusters that share key attributes is also a
                                          step towards stronger inferences than are possible from single-program
                                          press or sponsor accounts. Such accounts may stress results that are
                                          properly attributable not to the general program features but to unique
                                          conditions; conclusions based on data from multiple programs, and from
                                          two separate sources (surveys and visits), are preferable. Data from
                                          independent observations by our site visitors help add perspective to
                                          the natural enthusiasm program developers typically show in describing
                                          their efforts.

The Data We Gathered                      As noted, we used two methods to reach our objective of describing tui-
                                          tion-guarantee programs. First, to obtain comparable data on basic ques-
                    Y                     tions across the group, we developed a questionnaire that we mailed in
                                          August 1989 to each tuition-guarantee program we identified. This
                                          survey included 62 questions covering program goals, initial selection of

                                          Page 12           GAO/PEMD-96-16 Programa Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                        Chapter 1

                                        students and student characteristics, progress through school by the
                                        student group (including attrition), sponsors and their contributions,
                                        staff, extent and conditions of the tuition guarantee, support services
                                        for students, summer program, annual expenses, endowment for the tui-
                                        tion guarantee, and evaluation. Most specific questions asked for infor-
                                        mation about the school year 198889. In open-ended questions, we
                                        asked respondents to discuss factors encouraging and hindering success.
                                        We tested the questionnaire with staff of different kinds of programs to
                                        be sure it would allow them all to describe their work satisfactorily.

                                        After a second mailing of the questionnaire, a reminder postcard, and at
                                        least two telephone contacts with nonrespondents, we received 69
                                        usable responses, for a response rate of 62 percent. Table 1.2 shows how
                                        many programs of each type we identified and the percentage of survey
                                        responses we received from each.

Table 1.2: Tuition-Guarantee Programs
by Type and Response to Our Survey’                                                                  Programs            Survey responses
                                        Program type                                                 identified          Number        Percent
                                           -                                                                  70                37                 53
                                        Last-dollar                                                           13                12                 92
                                        University-based                                                      24                16                 67
                                        Pay-for-grades                                                         4                 4                100
                                        Total                                                                111                69                 62%
                                        aThis does not include 13 programs originally identified but later determined through the survey or fur-
                                        ther contact either not to be actively serving students in 1988-89 (that is, just starting or terminated) or
                                        not a tuition-guarantee program according to our definition.

                                        Second, we selected six tuition-guarantee programs to serve as case
                                        examples of different approaches and in late spring 1989 visited each of
                                        them with a two-person team for up to a week, to gather data. We chose
                                        programs that had been in existence for several years so that we could
                                        find out about their growth and development over time and their
                                        impacts on students. Because of the rapid growth of the sponsorship
                                        type of program (including those affiliated with or modeled after
                                        Eugene Lang’s IHAD program in New York City), we visited three of
                                        them, and one example of each of the other three types. There are uni-
                                        versity-based programs at both public and private schools; in one excep-
                                        tion to our general focus on private-sector efforts, we chose a major
                                        state university to visit to observe an especially extensive example of
                                        this type of program. Table 1.3 shows characteristics of the six pro-
                                        grams we visited.

                                        Page 13              GAO/PEMDBO-16 Progrmu~ Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                                   Chapter 1

Table 1.3: Characteristics      of Tuition-Guarantee   Programs We Visited
                                                                    Year                                       Number of
-.__I.- _._.__.
            - .__-.._
                    -_..-_---   Program type                established               Location                  student@              Sponsor
A            ---                Sponsorship                            1987           Northeast                         104           Individual
B                               Sponsorship                            1986           Southwest                       1,900           Multiple individuals
C                               Sponsorship                            1988           Mid-Atlantic                       35           National corporation
D                               Last-dollar                            1985           Northeast                       3.000           Business arouo
E                               Universitv-based                       1988           North central                     600           State universitv
F                               Pay-forgades                           1987           Mid-Atlantic                      102           Local corporation
                                                   aNumber of students participating at the time of our visit in 1989. In the last-dollar program, participants
                                                   include all those receiving any type of financial aid counseling, not only those receiving aid; in the pay
                                                   for-grades program, participants include only those winning the tuition benefits, not all those eligible.

                                                   For each program, we visited schools and community organizations and
                                                   observed regular activities of students and staff wherever possible. We
                                                   reviewed records and also interviewed students, parents, staff, spon-
                                                   sors, and pertinent officials (such as public school educators, community
                                                   leaders, or university administrators).8 The visits provided detailed
                                                   examples of topics covered in the survey, including programs’ goals,
                                                   resources, staffing, services, links to schools, successes and concerns,
                                                   and plans for evaluation. In addition, interviews with a range of partici-
                                                   pants at each site gave us multiple perspectives concerning controver-
                                                   sial subjects. In all, we visited 11 schools and interviewed 93 people.

How We Analyzed the                                We reviewed all the survey responses and first eliminated those from
Data                                               programs that were not currently operating or that did not involve some
                                                   type of early notice of a tuition guarantee. (Our scope excluded tradi-
                                                   tional scholarship programs, for example.) We checked each survey for
                                                   internal consistency and clarified confusing answers by follow-up tele-
                                                   phone calls. We then categorized each program as one of the four types
                                                   and did standard statistical analyses of the answers of all programs of
                                                   each type.g We chiefly used the mean, or average, when we judged it to
                                                   be an accurate representation of the answers from all those in a group of

                                                   aBecause of the extensive nature of our visits (for up to a week, with additional visits in some cases
                                                   for follow-up data gathering) to central and field offices of private-sector programs not involved with
                                                   federal law, regulation, or funds, we were especially grateful for the cooperation we received.
                                                   sMost categorizations were unambiguous. The only exceptions were a few cases in which a sponsor
                                                   gave a sizable fund to a university to manage, and the resulting program appeared much like the rest
                                                   of the sponsorship efforts we found (for example, with a guarantee of tuition anywhere). Because of
                                                   the special involvement of faculty and administration of universities in these, however, we retained
                                                   them in the university-based category, along with other university programs that guaranteed tuition
                                                   at a single school.

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                          chapter 1

                          programs, except in a few situations where one or two programs very
                          unlike the others distorted the picture given by the mean. For example,
                          one citywide pay-for-grades program had 29,000 eligible students, while
                          others affected only one classroom or school. One sponsorship program
                          had 1,900 students, though most others have around 100. In those situa-
                          tions in the text where an average would be misleading, we report the
                          median, which describes the midpoint of all answers and avoids distor-
                          tion by a few outliers.

                          We analyzed the site visit data in several ways. We compared the survey
                          data to the visit observations and looked for both corroboration and
                          contrasts. A staff member who had not visited sites performed the com-
                          puter analyses of the survey data and prepared conclusions that seemed
                          to flow from the data, without being influenced by the vivid on-site
                          details. Another staff member then joined in the further work with
                          survey data, drawing illustrations from the case material for some anal-
                          yses and directing additional survey analyses as needed. In addition, we
                          reviewed the site visit data to determine important themes and issues
                          that we had seen at several sites but which had not appeared in the

External Advisory Panel   We reviewed our plans, questionnaire, and results with an external advi-
                          sory panel of experts knowledgeable about the programs and their eval-
                          uation. Their names are listed in appendix 1.

                          We did not request formal comments on our report from the programs
                          involved or from any federal agency. Our work was conducted in accor-
                          dance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

Study Strengths and

Strengths                 This is the first study to report on the full range of private-sector tui-
                          tion-guarantee programs using diverse kinds of data, systematically
                          gathered. We made extensive efforts to locate all programs to send them
            Y             our questionnaire, to present questions that had been tested on similar
                          people, and to stimulate responses from as many programs as possible.
                          We made first-hand observations of programs exemplifying the major

                          Page 15        GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                      Chapter 1

                      different approaches and discussed their operations with a wide range
                      of participants.

Limitations           One limitation of our data is that we could not locate all sponsorship
                      programs to survey. Specifically, we did not have a full list of programs
                      affiliated with the national IHAD Foundation, although we made
                      repeated efforts to obtain such a list. We located 47, but there may be as
                      many as 85 more. We probably missed some programs of other types as
                      well, but we have no way of estimating the number as precisely as in the
                      mm case.

                      Another limitation is the fact that the response rates to our survey were
                      lower than we had hoped. For some types of programs, the response rate
                      was acceptable, as table 1.2 shows. However, we had the lowest
                      response (53 percent) from sponsorship programs; we cannot estimate
                      whether the group that answered is a biased sample (that is, systemati-
                      cally different from the full group we wanted to know about). Neverthe-
                      less, we can describe the 37 sponsorship programs that did respond, and
                      we also gathered further detailed data on this type of program in three
                      case studies.

                      In chapter 2, we answer the first evaluation question concerning pro-
Organization of the   grams’ characteristics by presenting each of the four program types,
Report                including their assumptions about students’ needs and how to meet
                      them, as well as our data on the programs in practice. Chapter 3
                      answers the second evaluation question on key issues that face the pro-
                      grams and that might be faced by others starting similar programs. In
                      chapter 4, we answer the third question, concerning results to date, with
                      programs’ self-reported data from the survey on student retention and
                      observations of individual programs’ outcomes from the case study
                      sites. In that chapter, we also address the likelihood-of-evaluation issue
                      with information from the survey on data being collected and evalua-
                      tions planned, and we suggest its importance in a discussion of the
                      potential returns to the programs’ investment in young people. Chapter
                      5 summarizes the study findings, draws overall conclusions, and high-
                      lights the importance of evaluation. Appendix II gives concrete sugges-
                      tions for improved evaluation on the part of tuition-guarantee

                      Page 16        GAO/PEMD-90-M Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education

                                                                                         i,           i
Chanter 2

Four Types of Tuition-Guaxmtee Programs

                Our national survey showed a very wide range of different efforts now
                under way that share the core idea of increasing incentives by guaran-
                teeing postsecondary education funds to young people. If a tuition guar-
                antee were enough, however, to change disadvantaged youths’
                aspirations, motivation, and achievement, the programs discussed here
                could be simple and the enormous press, TV, and public attention to the
                phenomenon would be unlikely. In fact, program sponsors believe much
                more is needed and, accordingly, their efforts are varied and complex,
                and include the rich human interest drama of philanthropists, universi-
                ties, and corporations not only promising to make higher education pos-
                sible for urban school classes but also devoting years of close attention
                to trying to assure the groups’ progress.

                This chapter presents the results of our national survey of tuition-guar-
                antee programs, which was designed to answer the initial evaluation
                question about the current characteristics of such programs. We begin
                by discussing the major assumptions that seem to underlie the

                Tuition-guarantee programs, like other new action programs, are guided
The Programs’   by some key ideas or central beliefs, and we found that these vary
Underlying      across the types of programs, They do share the general notion that the
Assumptions     price of higher education is a significant barrier to increased enrollment
                by disadvantaged students. Thus, by definition, all tuition-guarantee
                programs promise to provide funds for higher education that need not
                be repaid and that form a subsidy to reduce the price a student must
                pay. Presumably, all the programs’ designers expect that if students
                know early that cost will be reduced or eliminated as a barrier, they will
                be more enthusiastic about their chances of going to college. Sponsors
                further hope students will, with that more accessible goal now in mind,
                devote more time to studies that otherwise would have had less likeli-
                hood of paying off, and be more willing to forgo the short-term income
                from work during the period of extended schooling in expectation of
                higher long-term income and more satisfying work.

                Programs differ in their views of how unconditionally to guarantee the
                tuition grant, and the setting of conditions is related to particular
                assumptions about behavior, Pay-for-grades programs offer the most
                obvious conditional gift and the most concrete indicators used: students
                can earn the tuition funds only upon receiving specified grades on their
                report card. Some (though not all) university-based programs may select
                students for their tuition guarantee who show early promise of eventual

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                       chapter 2
                       Four Types of TuitionGuarantee       Programs

                       success at the institution, and then require the students to meet addi-
                       tional requirements (courses to be taken or average grades earned, for
                       example) along the way. Such programs, together with pay-for-grades
                       programs, thus require students to show that they are “worthy” of
                       investment, a concept somewhat analogous to the concept in welfare
                       policy of the “deserving” poor.

                       On the other hand, sponsorship program founders and staff tend to
                       believe strongly in the potential of every young person; thus, they typi-
                       cally promise the funds for higher education to a chosen group simply
                       on graduation (or even completion of the general equivalency certifi-
                       cate) without requiring a particular grade average or other measures of
                       academic potential or accomplishment.’ Last-dollar programs likewise
                       offer generalized encouragement to all students, but these programs
                       differ from sponsorship programs in that funds are given only after
                       high school graduation and then only to those with financial need after
                       colleges have made aid offers. However, despite their differences, many
                       of the sponsorship, university-based, and last-dollar programs share a
                       similar assumption about the viability and importance of educational
                       investment for all students.

                       But, as we repeatedly heard from people involved in these programs,
                       “the financial guarantee is only a small part” of the programs’ analyses
                       of what disadvantaged students need and what should be done to
                       expand students’ horizons and change their approach to school.

Sponsorship Programs   These programs’ designers appear to view the young persons’ whole
                       lives as being at risk, often on account of the disadvantaged community
                       or neighborhood where the students’ school is located. Accordingly,
                       sponsorship programs may aim to supply the emotional support and
                       total involvement of a substitute or added parent, together with a sup-
                       portive small group of other young people undergoing similar changes of
                       outlook, and bolstered by a wide range of services. The implication is
                       that the types of support students need to get to college-academic,
                       emotional, financial-are     needed early but are not available in their
                       immediate communities, and that strong external intervention can raise

                       ‘Though few programs have yet faced the complex problems of administering the guarantee, pro-
                       gram officials told us that they expect students will apply for all types of federal and state student
                       aid when the time comes. Since the students in most tuition-guarantee programs are typically very
                       low-income, they may be eligible for many kinds of government and institutional aid, so that the
                       programs’ own guarantee may be one of the smaller contributions to the overall funding of the stu-
                       dents’ higher educations.

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                          chapter 2
                          Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee   Programs

                          the expectations of those around the young person both at home and
                          school, In their strongest form, such programs aim to radically restruc-
                          ture, from a relatively early point, the forces affecting poor children’s

Last-Dollar Programs      These programs, on the other hand, by working with seniors about to
                          graduate, can take more for granted about students’ readiness for higher
                          education, motivation, and level of accomplishment, and thus can
                          narrow their area of concern and intervention. Such programs’ advo-
                          cates believe that for those who have survived and acceded to the last
                          two years of high school, financial aid is the key to further education.
                          Last-dollar programs therefore devote their efforts to technical informa-
                          tion and help with details of college costs, payment plans, expense
                          budgets, aid applications, and related matters. Once students find all the
                          available aid, the program adds marginal dollars at the end from its own
                          resources (based on formulas that typically leave some degree of a “self-
                          help” burden, including work and loans).

University-Based          These designs may range from something very like the sponsorship
Programs                  model (for example, in the case of a donor who initially gives a fund to a
                          particular university to guarantee tuition for a selected group from the
                          area, but that is to be used eventually to guarantee tuition anywhere), to
                          a guarantee to selected students in selected cities in one state that is
                          usable only at a particular university campus. The assumptions about
                          what students need in order to succeed may vary from the broadest
                          assessment and most comprehensive services to little more than the
                          guarantee alone. Programs with guarantees limited to a specific univer-
                          sity campus may also reflect past problems of student adaptation, and
                          may therefore stress activities to familiarize students with specific
                          campus facilities and locations, academic demands, and student culture
                          to help assure that students who eventually attend are ready to do their
                          best and do not have to endure unnecessary shocks or surprises.

Pay-For-Grades Programs   Such programs seem to reflect a central assumption that schools’ cur-
                          rent rewards are seen by too many students as inadequate to stimulate
                          their best academic efforts. The further assumption is that the addition
             Y            of a tuition-fund incentive-along   with any gifts, public recognition, and
                          other rewards (such as contact with mentors) that the winners

                          Page 19           GAO/PEMD-90-M Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                        chapter 2
                                        Four Types of Tuition4haran   teePrograms

Table 2.1: Programs’ Main Assumptions
                                        Program type                                  Tuition-guarantee   assumptions
                                        Sponsorship                                   A wide range of young students (and their
                                                                                      parents and teachers) can develop higher
                                                                                      expectations by being guaranteed tuition,
                                                                                      which will be available to all those sponsored
                                                                                      in a selected but heterogeneous group who
                                                                                      can meet entrance requirements (high school
                                                                                      graduation or GED) for higher education
                                        Last-dollar                                   Small awards can help make higher
                                                                                      education possible, or enrich students’
                                                                                      options, when awarded to needy graduating
                                                                                      seniors after all other aid possibilities have
                                                                                      been tapped
                                        University-based                              Depends on nature of program; single school
                                                                                      programs assume motivation can be raised
                                                                                      by guaranteeing tuition at one university to
                                                                                      those selected as having promise of success
                                                                                      at that institution
                                        Pay-for-grades                                Grades are a useful measure of both
                                                                                      performance and potential and therefore can
                                                                                      justify decisions on education investment in
                                                                                      individuals; also, motivation for education can
                                                                                      be raised by adding funds toward tuition as a
                                                                                      reward for those attaining specified grades
                                                                                      or an overall average

                                        receive -will draw more individual efforts from the larger group of stu-
                                        dents who hope thereby to win, even though the payoff goes only to
                                        those who achieve.

                                        Programs that add new rewards, with no other changes, rest on the
                                        additional assumption that the academic evaluation process is viewed as
                                        legitimate. Raising the stakes on school performance, however, may put
                                        a new spotlight on issues such as the fairness of grading. Such programs
                                        face the further challenge of assessing how far the available funds can
                                        be spread under different payoff conditions, and the short- and long-
                                        term effects on students of having many or few winners. For example,
                                        large awards might stimulate the greatest effort, but limited resources
                                        mean big rewards can be given to only a few (that is, most people will
                                        not win). This may depress effort in later groups when they learn of the
                                        early payoff history.

                                        Page 20            GAO/PEW9@16      Programs Guanmteeiug Student Aid for Higher Education
                                               Chapter 2
                                               Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee   J?rogram~

Other obstacles                                                        Intervention assumptions
Multiple problems of youth in disadvantaged   neighborhoods            Students’ aspirations, self-esteem, and confidence about their
                                                                       chances of success can be enhanced by providin unqualified
                                                                       support from an additional parent figure, along wrtTl extensive
                                                                       services and a supportive group of other young people going
                                                                       through similar changes

Problem of lack of knowledge of student-aid procedures among           Technical help in aggressive search for aid will yield almost enough
disadvantaged applicants                                               aid to support higher education

individual university problems with recruitment and retention          A tailored program will reach students from underrepresented
                                                                       groups and areas, and specific activities will enhance the students’
                                                                       chances of success at that institution

General problems of low expectations   and aspirations among           Enrichment experiences and mentoring will further enhance
disadvantaged students                                                 motivation when provided to those who emerge as winners in the
                                                                       grade contest

                                               Pay-for-grades programs open to large groups (an entire school or dis-
                                               trict) cannot, by their nature, embrace a theory of complex student
                                               needs that require services to be met. A school or district may provide
                                               academic help separately, but the tuition-guarantee programs do not
                                               include integral supportive help for all, though it may be offered to the
                                               winners-arguably      those least in need-as part of their reward.

                                               Table 2.1 summarizes the programs’ assumptions about the potential
                                               effects of an early guarantee of help with college tuition, as well as
                                               assumptions about other ways the programs intervene to help disadvan-
                                               taged young people.

                                               Page 21           GAO/PEMD-90-16 Frograma Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                        Chapter 2
                        Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee      Programs

The Programs’ Hopeful   Most generally, the programs aim to rekindle a faith in education and a
Philosophy              broader hope for the future among disadvantaged students and their
                        families. The programs’ names convey the designers’ aspirations for the
                        young people: I Have a Dream, with its evocation of Dr. Martin Luther
                        King; Young Scholars (6th graders chosen by Ohio State University);
                        ScholarshipBuilder 2000 (the Merrill Lynch Corporation’s collaboration
                        with the Urban League, involving 1988-89 first graders who will grad-
                        uate from high school in the year 2000); and others, including Tell Them
                        We Are Rising, I Know I Can, Say Yes to Education, Passport to Success,
                        and College Opportunity Program 1995. All the programs, whatever
                        their titles, rest on a basic finding from research that gives them plausi-
                        bility. This finding is that the ideals that students, their parents, and
                        their peers cherish are more important than a student’s socioeconomic
                        and ethnic background in predicting academic success.2

                        To summarize the detailed information that will be presented in the rest
Major Differences       of the chapter, our survey showed many specific differences in practice
Among the Programs      across and to some degree even within the four types of programs. That
                        is, they differ on the key common dimensions of financial incentives and
                        supportive services. For example, the basic dollar incentive ranges from
                        four years’ full tuition to much less. In addition, programs’ services
                        vary, as shown by the range of cost per student from $111 to $923 per
                        year and by the range of intensity of adult presence from 1:526 to 1:14.
                        Sponsorship programs offer the greatest tuition incentive and the most
                        extensive supportive services. At the other extreme, pay-for-grades pro-
                        grams offer both smaller financial incentives and fewer services. Last-
                        dollar and university-based programs vary considerably among them-
                        selves but can be characterized generally as falling somewhere in a
                        middle ground between the other two types, with relatively sizable
                        financial incentives but lesser degrees of supportive services. Table 2.2
                        summarizes these major differences on the two key dimensions. Since
                        the programs represent such varying scales of intervention, it will be of
                        great interest to trace the long-term effects, and hence the cost-effec-
                        tiveness, of each. It seems reasonable to expect that although the pro-
                        grams have a common plausible starting point in seeking changes in
                        students’ outlooks on school and life, the programs have very different

                        “U.S. Department of Education, What Works: Research About Teaching and Learning, 2nd ed. (Wash-
                        ington, DC.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987), p. 16. It is curious that programs that aim to
                        persuade young people that individual effort is consequential and that perseverance will pay off,
                        sometimes select groups for services and the educational benefit in a manner that may appear inex-
                        plicable and random to the recipients; this could reinforce a fatalistic view that successis mysterious,
                        which is quite the opposite of the instrumental outlook desired.

                        Page 22             GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                               Chapter 2
                                               Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee      Prorpame

                                               chances of actually changing students’ lives. Table 2.3 summarizes
                                               quantitative indicators concerning students, adults, annual expenses,
                                               and results so far for each program type. The programs’ results will be
                                               described in chapter 4; the rest of the data are presented in this chapter.
Table 2.2: Extent of Financial Incentives
and Supportive Services Provided by            Type of                Extent of financial incentives            Extent of supportive services
Four Types of Program                          program              Stronger           Weaker                  More extensive Less extensive
                                               Sponsorship          Xa                                         -X                                __~
                                               Last-dollar          X                                                               X
                                               Universitv-based     X                                                               X
                                               Pay-for-grades                             X                                         X
                                               aAn “X” indicates a program characteristic.

Table 2.3: Summary of Program8 on Selected Indicators0
                                                                                     Adult-            Annual
                                           Number         Students                 student          spending
Program type
A            -~            -   .---_
                                       responding     Average      Total              ratio       per student Results
--.--.~--                                       3;          98     3,617               I:14       -      $923 High retention rates
Last-dollar                                                                                                   Payouts to 2,389; total $1.54
-~--l._.          _.-1~1 ..---                  12        1,544       16,968          1:177              $431 million; average award $797
-~-.-        .__-.
                --.--                           16          119        1,698           1:18              $328 High retention rates
Pay-for-grades                                                                                                Payouts to 495; total $73,000;
                                                                                                              average awards vary from $138 to
                                                 4        4,998       19,993b         1526               $111 $667
                                               aAll data for 1988-89.Students counted include only those still in school; does not include graduates
                                               receiving tuition awards.
                                               blncludes only students qualifying for payments.

The Programs in

Sponsorship Programs
Program           Structure, Students, and     These programs are the best-known, as a consequence of the publicity
Gods                                           given to the New York and other sites of the IHAD group. We located 70
                                               such programs; 37 answered our survey. None began earlier than 1985.
                                               We included in this group the Merrill Lynch Corporation’s program,
                                               which involves 250 students in 10 cities, although it is different in sig-
                                               nificant ways from the others.

                                               Page 23             GAO/PEMD-99-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
Chapter   2
Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee     Programe

Although 14 of the 37 programs were started by individuals, 16 were
started by organizations (10 of the 16 by foundations), and 7 were
begun under still other arrangements or agreements. As we found in one
of the sites we visited, a community may have no wealthy individual
who could begin the program, but a group of individuals may be willing
to take on the financial responsibility for a group of students.

Slightly less than half of all programs chose an existing group (one or
more classrooms) to be sponsored, typically at a graduation transition
somewhere between fourth and eighth grade. The Merrill Lynch pro-
gram starts even earlier: Urban League and school officials in each of
the 10 cities selected one elementary school according to criteria of loca-
tion, staffing, and program, and then chose individual students entering
first grade, rather than an intact class.

Programs typically reported choosing students only once. The initial
groups averaged 77 students, most whom were black or Hispanic.3 Eight
sites added students (replacing those who left or adding new groups),
and the average size of the groups selected grew to 106 students. In all,
the programs answering our survey reported that they had thus far
selected (or opened the opportunity to) just over 3,800 students, 3,617
of whom were still enrolled in school in 1988-8ga4The size of the group
served by individual programs in the 1988-89 school year ranged
between 14 and 1,786 students.

Nearly all sponsorship programs cited motivating students to finish high
school as a main goal. Targeting students as they move from elementary
to intermediate and high school is key to these efforts because sponsors
hope to reach students before they are “lost” or have begun to lose
interest in school. Program sponsors we visited told us that their intent
is to continue the sponsorship no matter where the student moves. This
raises obvious questions about the feasibility of providing the critical
supportive services, or even of tracking individuals in order to deliver
the tuition guarantee at the appropriate time. How programs will make
good on their promises at a distance has not been widely tested yet since

“Thirty-three sites included black students, who typically were 80 percent of those selected; 20 sites
reported Hispanic students, in an average proportion of 31 percent. Sixteen sites had white students,
an average of 8 percent, and 8 sites reported that 2 percent of their enrollees were of Asian American
or Pacific Islander ancestry. Four sites also reported enrolling small numbers of Native American

“News accounts of the I Have a Dream network of programs cite a total of 9,000 studenta sponsored
in about 130 programs, as of August 1989. See Joseph Berger, “East Harlem Students Clutch a College
Dream,” New York Times, August 27, 1989, p. 28.

Page 24             GAO/PEMTh90-10 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                Chapter 2
                                Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee   Programa

                                most have operated only 1 to 3 years, with junior high school-aged stu-
                                dents in a few schools. One program that sponsored individuals from
                                numerous schools rather than an intact class, and currently has a group
                                spread across a large city, has already reported difficulties.

                                Asked to indicate key elements essential to the main goal, respondents
                                spoke frequently of academic skill improvement (N=20), cultural activi-
                                ties such as attending plays or visiting places students and their families
                                might not otherwise see (N= 19), and providing mentors who could
                                reflect the results of continued persistence with school work (N=17).
                                Together, these types of interventions attempt to help students to be
                                better prepared for the academic rigors and the broader culture of

Sponsors, Staff, and Services   Sponsors, either individuals or groups, have multiple roles with regard
                                to their programs. In 29 sites with initial major sponsors, these individ-
                                uals or organizations provided the basic funding for the tuition guar-
                                antee. In 28 cases, the founders reported spending time with
                                participating students. In addition, 26 provided additional funding
                                beyond the tuition guarantee to support services and activities for the
                                students, 26 were involved with planning, and 18 coordinated with
                                schools and other outside organizations. Thus, sponsors in these pro-
                                grams have taken on a variety of roles that transcend making funding
                                available and include more extensive personal involvement with stu-
                                dents selected, along with program management and other activities.

                                The single financial sponsor who also serves as personal mentor to a
                                class of students is not the only model. A notable exception is the Merrill
                                Lynch Corporation’s ScholarshipBuilder 2000 program, where the
                                national corporation is providing the guarantee but is also providing
                                funds to, and working with, the Urban League affiliate in each of the 10
                                cities where a class of youngsters has been selected. Urban League staff
                                will arrange the supportive services by drawing on diverse resources,
                                including staff in local offices of the Merrill Lynch Corporation.

                                Programs may in some cases have so many different adults in the roles
                                of sponsor, mentor, staff, and volunteers that students may be confused.
                                We observed this potential in one site we visited, which had not found
                                enough wealthy donors to carry through the one-sponsor-one-class
                                design. Help for a single student in this program, for example, could
                                include: tutoring by a shifting set of college volunteers; a tuition guar-
                                antee by a local chapter of a national sorority; counseling in school, and
                                recreational and cultural outings, conducted by a paid staff member;

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Chapter 2
Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee      Programs

and mentoring by a local business leader who also provided counseling
and enrichment activities.

Staffs were modest in size. Programs had both paid and unpaid staff
who provided services to students, with a median staff size of 6.6 The
respondents also reported hiring an average of just under two paid man-
agement staff. We computed a ratio of adult staff to students (including
both paid staff and volunteers) to compare the chances of such contact
across the four types of programs; sponsorship projects showed one
adult for every 14 students.6 Fewer than half reported having any cler-
ical staff.

We asked staff to estimate how many days in an average month stu-
dents received supportive services. Academic assistance was most
common and most frequent. Twenty-eight of the 37 programs told us
that students received academic assistance, on average, every other
school day (just under 10 days a month). One program we visited used
the sponsor’s private resources to establish a 2-hour after-school pro-
gram in the students’ school three days a week. (The after-school pro-
gram also included a fourth afternoon of recreational activities at the
community organization that administered the program for the
sponsor.) The after-school program open to the 84 students was staffed
by 12 people: 5 teachers from the regular school faculty, 3 teacher aides,
3 high school student volunteers, a parent who helped with record
keeping, and a director from the district’s central office. The teachers
deliberately grouped the students and repeated and reinforced class-
room lessons and helped with homework, using extra materials the pro-
gram purchased. Test-taking skills were also emphasized and practiced.
The program established an extensive agenda of concrete incentives
(including clothing, trips, and theater passes) covering all its activities,
with special rewards (including two added trips) for those attending the
after-school program. This element of the sponsor’s program alone cost
$45,000 (in salaries and the incentives), or $900 per student for the 50
students (out of a total of 84 in the sponsored group) who voluntarily
took part. We calculated that each student who attended regularly (at 6
hours per week, for perhaps 30 weeks) received approximately 180
additional hours of school. This is the equivalent of adding an hour to
every school day for the entire year, with teaching delivered in smaller

“The average staff size was 30, but this figure is strongly affected by a single project that reported
using 666 volunteer staff to assist the 1,966 students selected.

“This figure includes part-tie volunteers and staff, and thus is not comparable to figures based on
counting full-time-equivalent adults, such as schools’ teacher-pupil ratios.

Page 26             GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                    Four Types of Tuition-Guarautee    Programs

                    groups and with increased rewards for effort. This type of intervention
                    builds on the conclusion from research that the amount of time students
                    are actively engaged in learning strongly affects their achievement.7

                    Programs reported about the same frequency of the second major type
                    of support, contact with a mentor. In 24 programs offering such sup-
                    port, our survey found an average of 9 days of such contact per month.8
                    Cultural or recreational activities occurred somewhat less often-about
                    5 days out of the month (as reported by 30 programs).

                    Services appear to go to most participating students but only some of
                    their families. Those respondents answering (33 of the 37 programs)
                    estimated that during the 1988-89 school year an average of 103 stu-
                    dents, about as many as the total student group in the average program,
                    received support services as a result of being involved in the program.
                    In addition, 28 programs reported that an average of 29 family members
                    of students received services during this same period.

Summer Programs     In 1989, most sponsorship programs (28 of 37) offered summer pro-
                    grams, and an average of 77 students participated. Nine of the 28 offer-
                    ings were full-time and lasted all summer; 14 were less than all summer,
                    usually 6 to 8 weeks long; and the remaining 5 described their efforts as
                    part-time but lasting all summer. Common features of summer programs
                    included cultural or recreational activities (N=28), academic tutoring
                    (N=20), and college visits (N=19). Considering that most of the sponsor-
                    ship programs’ students are of junior high school age, college visits for
                    them represent much earlier exposure to colleges than most students
                    receive. Finally, thirteen of the 29 summer programs offered employ-
                    ment opportunities.

Work With Parents   Parents are an obvious target for program activities, for their potential
                    influence over the selected young people’s educational plans and aspira-
                    tions. We did not find unique ideas about parental involvement, but pro-
                    grams did seem to have tried tactics (such as providing a meal along
                    with a meeting) that, although not difficult, are not typical in, for
                    example, school efforts to involve parents.

                    %.S. Department of Education, What Works: Research About Teaching and Learning, 2nd ed. (Wash-
                    ington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987), p. 39.

                    ‘We cannot distinguish precisely who served as mentors in these reported contacts; financial spon-
                    sors, other volunteers, or paid staff may all have been counted.

                    Page 27            GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                Chapter 2
                Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee     Programa

                Most programs (N-30 or 81 percent) started early to involve parents, by
                requiring their consent for students to participate. Fewer (N= 19)
                required parents to attend meetings. To increase parent involvement,
                nearly all the respondents said they scheduled meetings at convenient
                times, such as evenings, while many also provided lunch or dinner with
                the meeting (26), and some offered other services as an incentive for
                participation (17). The same sponsorship program that established the
                after-school activities described above set up one part of its reading pro-
                gram for the lowest achieving students so that parents could also attend,
                though only four did so. Programs much less often invited parents to
                participate in formally directing the program; only 15 programs of this
                type established a formal board or parent council.

                Program respondents were not satisfied, however, with the results of
                these efforts with parents. Reflecting on all the implementation barriers
                they had faced, about half warned similar programs to expect a lack of
                family support, ranking this problem as one of the three most significant
                obstacles they have faced.

Projpml Funds   Programs’ expenses (typically including such items as staff salaries,
                supplies, and expenses of outings with the students) for the 1988-89
                academic year averaged just over $49,000 for the 28 that reported the
                figures.” We computed an average per-student cost of $923, though this
                is almost certainly an underestimate of the programs’ full annual cost.
                Despite the image of wealthy benefactors providing generous support,
                survey respondents (typically program staff) stated that lack of money
                made it hard to provide comprehensive services to their needy spon-
                sorees. Though, on average, most respondents described a fairly broad
                array of services, they also believe funds are needed to do more.

                Virtually all of the 37 sponsorship programs answering the survey have
                separate funds already set aside to pay the future postsecondary educa-
                tional expenses of participating students.lo Some respondents would not

                “Obtaining accurate expense figures by survey is difficult, especially with programs involving com-
                plex arrangements among several organizations. Those individuals chosen lo respond to our survey
                because of their knowledge of the students and the program may not have known the details of a
                program’s annual expenses. Further, even if respondents were fully knowledgeable, we asked only
                about budgeted expenses; such figures will understate overall costs by not including the dollar value
                of donated space, equipment, volunteer time, or other items (such as contributed faculty time in uni-
                versity programs or teacher and counselor tie in schools). The figures in the text should be consid-
                ered minimum estimates of programs’ true costs.
                “‘We got the information on the survey or in follow-up telephone interviews. We could never reach
                one program which had not answered that question on the survey to confirm whether there was such
                a fund or not.

                Page 28             GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                   Chapter 2
                                   Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee   Programs

                                   disclose the amount and others, whose funds were managed elsewhere,
                                   did not know the size of the fund, but the 24 who did answer reported a
                                   total endowment of $7,096,000 or an average of just under $296,000 per
                                   program, with a range from $16,000 to $1.56 million. Obviously, not all
                                   reported full funding of the tuition-guarantee liability at the outset. Pro-
                                   grams in the I Have a Dream network are asked to set up a fund in the
                                   hands of an independent third party, such as a community foundation,
                                   of several hundred thousand dollars at the beginning of the program,
                                   which is then invested at a rate of return adequate to satisfy the future
                                   tuition guarantee as well as pay annual program expenses.L1Others are
                                   aware of their liability and report fund-raising plans for the coming
                                   years while the students are still in school. The adequacy of the finan-
                                   cial planning in these programs has not been tested, as they are still in
                                   their early years; none of the sponsorship programs reported having to
                                   make postsecondary education tuition payments during 1988-89.

                                   Funding questions are a primary concern to staff respondents. Consid-
                                   ering problems others would face, respondents often listed problems of
                                   obtaining needed resources, especially for current services, as reported
                                   in detail in a later section. Fourteen respondents warned others that
                                   obtaining funds for the tuition guarantee could be difficult, requiring
                                   significant effort.

Last-Dollar Programs
Program Structure, Students, and   Of the 13 last-dollar programs we located, 12 responded to our survey.
GO&                                These included one of the oldest programs we found, started in 1966;
                                   two thirds have been started since 1985. The “last dollar” refers to the
                                   program’s guarantee of the final amount a student needs to attend col-
                                   lege (or other eligible postsecondary school), after efforts to obtain all
                                   other aid have been exhausted. In order to conserve their own
                                   resources, the programs use specialized staff and information resources
                                   to help students and their families search aggressively for other aid. The
                                   programs typically offer this general help to a broad group of students
                                   in one or more schools in a geographic area, starting with college aware-
                                   ness sessions in the junior year and continuing through the application
                                   stage in the senior year. (Eleven of the 12 programs responding served
                                   students in a geographic area, regardless of where they intended to
                                   pursue higher education; one awarded funds only to local students who

                                   “According to news accounts, the 130 IHAD programs had a total endowment of $40 million in
                                   August 1989.

                                   Page 29           GAO/PEMDBO-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                Chapter 2
                                Four Types of TuitionGuarantee       Programs

                                entered a local public university.) Awards of the last dollars needed wait
                                until admissions and student aid offers from schools are made in the
                                summer after graduation. Thus, these programs’ efforts are focused on
                                students who are almost at the end of their high school experience, but
                                go beyond a typical scholarship program by providing early awareness
                                sessions, extensive technical assistance with aid applications, and coun-
                                seling on college finances generally, as well as the guarantee of some
                                funds to help with unmet needs.

                                We asked about the size of the group eligible to take part in each pro-
                                gram. Most opened eligibility to juniors and seniors in a set of schools in
                                a district or city, and 10 who gave figures reported an average of 3,138
                                eligible individuals.12 On average, about half of those eligible partici-
                                pated during the year, which presumably could include taking part in
                                opportunities offered for group workshops and individual financial aid
                                counseling, as well as eventual application for the guaranteed last-dollar
                                funds. Programs reported from 127 to 6,094 participants in 1988-89, for
                                a total among all those responding of 16,988. One last-dollar program we
                                visited, for example, reported that in the previous year there were 2,900
                                eligible students in 17 high schools, of whom 1,500 were counseled in
                                some way; 262 eventually completed a formal application, and 82
                                received funds. For our aggregate statistics across all programs of this
                                type, we counted as participants all those receiving some services. Some
                                last-dollar programs continue to offer aid as needed throughout the
                                years of post-secondary education, or to advise students more generally
                                on how to complete their higher education successfully.

                                Last-dollar programs state a primary goal of helping to increase the col-
                                lege attendance of at-risk youth, and more than half stated that the pro-
                                gram’s promise of financial assistance for college is a key element in
                                realizing these goals. If the award is broadly available and sizable, sub-
                                stantial funds are needed, which suggests a fund-raising challenge. Per-
                                haps related to this need to raise funds, all but two of the sites noted
                                that a second key goal is to involve business and the community in this
                                positive educational activity.

Sponsors, Staff, and Services   Like other guaranteed-tuition programs, last-dollar efforts are spon-
                                sored by a range of groups. Five were started by individuals, three by
                                organizations, and four by a combination of businesses, individuals, and
                  Y             foundations. The five that had individual sponsors reported that these

                                ‘“This figure reflects the total number of eligible students in a school or school district who had the
                                appropriate academic preparation and who could apply for assistance if they had financial need.

                                Page 30             GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                    Chapter 2
                    Four Type@ of TuitiomGuarantee      Progranw

                    individuals spent time with participating students, in addition to pro-
                    viding the financial support. Programs started by organizations or larger
                    groups reported that these sponsors were more engaged in administra-
                    tive work, including financial support, fund raising, and coordination of
                    activities with schools or foundations.

                    Staffing patterns varied with the scale of the program implemented.
                    Last-dollar sites reported an average of two paid staff involved with
                    program management and an average of eight paid staff who provided
                    services to students. Two sites also relied on the services of unpaid staff
                    to provide services to students. The median ratio of adults (both paid
                    and volunteer) to students in these programs was 1 to 82.13

                    Consistent with the narrower goals of these programs, most did not
                    report providing academic assistance or other wide-ranging services to
                    student participants. (Such assistance may have been available to stu-
                    dents through other sources in their schools or districts.) At the three
                    sites that offered some type of academic assistance in 1988-89, this
                    occurred on an average of two days a month; three programs organized
                    adult mentoring resulting in contact an average of one day a month; and
                    two offered cultural and recreational activities during an average

Work With Parents   Most programs did not require or emphasize parental involvement,
                    except in the sense of requiring family financial data to demonstrate the
                    extent of aid needed. Although the nature of these programs does not
                    preclude parents from taking an active role in them, such as helping a
                    student assess costs and resources and weigh specific options for higher
                    education, the programs’ structure and the time at which they intervene
                    in students’ lives may make parental support somewhat less crucial than
                    in other programs.

Program F’unds      Expenses during the 1988-89 school year, not including payments to stu-
                    dents for postsecondary financial aid, were $179,000 on average for
                    each last-dollar program. The range was from $6,000, spent by a rela-
                    tively new program, to just over $650,000, a figure reported by a large,
                    well-established effort with a sizable staff serving a whole city school
                    district. The median annual expense per student participant (in the

                    ‘“The average was 1 to 177, but that figure is strongly affected by several unusually large projects.

                    Page 31             GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                   Chapter 2
                                   Four Types of TuitionGuarantee      Programs

                                   broader sense, rather than only those winning last-dollar awards) was
                                   $ 136.14

                                   Nine of the programs reported having established separate funds for
                                   college aid totaling $14,539,655. The average size of these funds was
                                   $1.6 million dollars. Such sizable assets reflect considerable effort by
                                   sponsors and organizers that resulted in extensive business and conunu-
                                   nity support.

                                   Despite the fact that last-dollar programs reported relatively large
                                   endowments, staff at three fourths of the sites surveyed reported that
                                   similar programs might have difficulty obtaining funds for future tui-
                                   tion, and most added that they could also have difficulty securing
                                   funding to provide the services to students.

Program Structure, Students, and   Of the 24 university-based programs we located, 16 responded to our
Goals                              survey. In general, programs included in this grouping are associated
                                   with a specific university campus, and university staff fill key positions.
                                   Programs varied in method of student selection, design, services offered,
                                   and in the nature of the guarantee. Among the 15 that provided starting
                                   dates on the survey, all were relatively new, having begun between 1986
                                   and 1988. Eleven had been initiated by the universities, two by individ-
                                   uals, and three under other types of arrangements.

                                   The programs used different approaches to select or recruit students.
                                   Staff at 13 reported selecting students in a first group and then adding
                                   others later, averaging 74 once all participants were added. Altogether,
                                   these programs had selected a total of 962 students, most of whom were
                                   black.lh Some programs were located at public universities that had
                                   reached out to select, as early as 6th grade, small groups of young
                                   people for future admissions and tuition guarantee in somewhat similar
                                   fashion to the individual-sponsor programs described previously
                                   (though usually choosing individuals rather than intact classes). A pro-
                                   gram we visited gave standard instructions to educators in numerous

                                   14Theaverage, $431 per student, was again affected by a few large projects.
                                   ‘“In the 12 programs that chose students, staff reported that an average of 96 percent of the students
                                   they selected were black; staff of four programs reported Hispanic students, 9 percent on the
                                   average; six included white students, who averaged only 2 percent of the group.

                                   Page 32             GAO/PEMD-90.16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                Chapter 2
                                Four Types of TuitionGuarantee   Program

                                separate cities across the state as to how to select students, and
                                although campus officials did review the selections, they had to trust
                                local collaborators to carry out that key step. In two of the cities we
                                visited, quite different approaches had been taken to identifying target
                                schools and individual students, Some programs were at private univer-
                                sities where individual donors had given the funds to sponsor a small
                                group and then turned over program design and management to univer-
                                sity staff, with the tuition eventually guaranteed at other institutions
                                besides the host school.

                                The remaining three university-based programs did not select individ-
                                uals but made an opportunity available to a larger group, ranging from
                                106 to 1700 students, such as all those in high school in a geographic
                                area. In the 1988-89 academic year, these three programs reported that
                                18 to 845 students took part, receiving tutoring or other services and
                                guidance about college.

                                In summary, university-based programs reported both the approach of
                                deliberately selecting students for the opportunity and that of opening a
                                program to voluntary participation from a large group. A total of 1,898
                                students participated in 1988-89, about equally divided as to how they
                                became involved.

                                Programs’ goals centered on several themes. All or almost all respon-
                                dents cited improving students’ academic skills and achievement, moti-
                                vating students to graduate, and increasing college attendance of
                                disadvantaged, at-risk, or minority students. One large university pro-
                                gram we visited was initiated following a review that highlighted the
                                continuing shortcomings of other approaches in increasing minority stu-
                                dent recruitment and retention. Important elements for realizing these
                                goals cited included academic skill improvement (N= 10) and mentors
                                (N=9), with apparently much less agreement on the need for broader
                                cultural or recreational experiences (N=4).

Sponsors, Staff, and Services   As initiators as well as implementors, the university staff have taken on
                                the full range of responsibilities, including planning, coordinating with
                                the public schools and others, raising funds for future tuition and cur-
                                rent operations, and spending time with individual students. All of these
                                were commonly cited by respondents, showing less differentiation of
                                roles than in some of the other program types.

                                The programs may be integrated into other university functions. Staff at
                                nine of the programs reported separate paid managers, with an average

                                Page 33           GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                   Chapter 2
                   Four Types of TuitiomGuarantee   Programs

                   of two such staff each; three others reported unpaid managers. Sizable
                   numbers of staff were, however, reported to be working with students: 7
                   programs noted an average of 11 paid staff each, and 6 others reported
                   13 unpaid staff each on average. In a state-wide university program we
                   visited, with students selected from nine cities, graduate students
                   served as dormitory counselors for a summer session on campus, and
                   faculty taught summer classes along with local school teachers. How-
                   ever, the main school-year effort with students was left to local teachers
                   to devise, with occasional visits to the nine sites by a special staff of two
                   from the university. We calculated that, on average, there was one adult
                   for every 18 students in these programs.

                   The major service provided to students, consistent with the academic
                   emphasis of the programs’ goals, was academic help or tutoring. On
                   average, students received this help on 7 days of a typical month. Next
                   in emphasis was contact with an adult mentor, reported to average 5
                   days per month. Cultural and recreational activities were scheduled on 3
                   days per month on the average. Overall, respondents from the univer-
                   sity-based programs estimated that an average of 104 students received
                   support services during the 1989-90 academic year. In addition, staff at
                   4 programs reported that an average of 54 family members of students
                   received some type of support services.

                   Keeping track of students appears to be harder for university-based pro-
                   grams than for others. Fully two thirds of those responding noted that
                   other such programs should expect administrative problems maintaining
                   contact with students. In the statewide program mentioned earlier, such
                   contact from the university would obviously be difficult; local school
                   officials would be the only ones with any practical possibility of being in
                   close touch with the students.

Summer Programs    Eleven respondents said they offered some type of summer program for
                   student participants. Most lasted 2 to 4 weeks; each enrolled 91 students
                   on average. Most (N= 10 or 9, respectively) emphasized academic
                   tutoring or cultural and recreational activities; somewhat fewer projects
                   included college visits (N=7); and a handful offered college counseling
                   (N=3), though visits and counseling would obviously be less important
                   in programs where the guarantee was to a single school well-known in

Work With Pare&s   All but one program required parental consent for student participation,
                   and 10 required that parents attend meetings. Most tried the common

                   Page 34          GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programa Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education

                                   Chapter 2
                                   Four Apes of Tuition-Guarantee   Programs

                                   approaches to increase parent involvement, including convenient sched-
                                   uling (N= 15), providing lunch or dinner with a meeting (N= lo), and
                                   providing transportation (N=7). Respondents from 7 programs warned
                                   others to expect resistance or lack of cooperation from family members.
                                   Even in the statewide program we visited, university staff worked with
                                   local educators to emphasize special contact with parents, and we met
                                   with an enthusiastic parent council in one of the nine cities who
                                   described their continuing role, including campus visits

Program Funds                      In the 1988-89 academic year, expenses averaged slightly over $99,500
                                   each for the 8 programs that reported such figures. In those programs
                                   where staff selected students and for which complete data were avail-
                                   able (N=7), expenses averaged $274 per student. Complete data were
                                   available on only one program open to a wider group, and its expenses
                                   averaged $710 per student participant. Combining the 8 university-
                                   based programs for which we had complete data, the 1988-89 expenses
                                   per student averaged $328.

                                   These school-oriented programs may have had trouble getting estab-
                                   lished in the university-wide competition for resources. Of the 16, a
                                   majority singled out both limited resources for operations (N= 11) and
                                   even limitations on the tuition-guarantee funds (N= 10) as problems
                                   others should expect to face.

                                   Staff at six programs reported having established a separate fund for
                                   the tuition guarantee, with four giving dollar amounts ($238,000, on
                                   average). Because of their close links to specific universities, the rest of
                                   the programs may have informal assurances of tuition waivers to be
                                   granted in the future, or other arrangements that make specific funds
                                   unnecessary. None awarded postsecondary education payments in 1988-

Pay-For-Grades Programs
Program Structure, Students, and   Linking tuition funds to school grades is the least common method of
GO&l                               providing guaranteed student aid. We located only four such programs,
                                   and all responded to our survey. While all of them target students in
                                   inner-city schools and extend the opportunity to earn money for grades
                Y                  to a larger group (rather than just a selected few), the programs vary in
                                   scope and details of the award. For example, in a large midwestern city,
                                   all students in grades 7 and above are eligible (a total of about 29,000 in

                                   Page 36          GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programa Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                                Chapter 2
                                Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee   Programa

                                 1988-89) and can earn tuition funds for any individual course grade of C
                                or above in a qualifying subject ($40 for any A, $20 for any B, $10 for
                                any C). For a contrasting example, in an eastern city, the program is
                                open only to students at one high school, and the payment is a standard
                                $600 per semester to those who earn grades of A or B in all eligible
                                classes. In the first program, a $10 bonus is awarded if a grade is earned
                                in an honors class; in the second, no adjustment is made for class diffi-
                                culty, but not all classes qualify. The programs in the two other cities
                                offer the grade-based tuition rewards to elementary school students,
                                with one restricting eligibility to only 32 students in a single Gth-grade

                                Goals of pay-for-grades programs are typically to motivate students to
                                complete high school and to help them to attend college. All also claim a
                                third goal of increasing students’ academic skills and achievement, but it
                                is not clear which deliberate activities of the programs could help partic-
                                ipating students reach this goal.

                                Difficulties in maintaining contact with students were mentioned as a
                                potential problem area by all four respondents, perhaps reflecting to
                                some degree the modest tie to the students that the programs generate.
                                Two also noted potential difficulties getting information from schools,
                                and one cited a lack of cooperation from school staff. The sizable record-
                                keeping and verification efforts that are necessary in assessing grades
                                of hundreds or thousands of students may explain these comments.

Sponsors, Staff, and Services   Of the four pay-for-grades programs, three are sponsored by businesses
                                or corporations, and one is run by a foundation that receives business
                                and corporate support. All were started in 1986 or later. Sponsors’ roles
                                center on funding future tuition and related expenses, with administra-
                                tive and program planning support offered in two cases. The largest pro-
                                gram (in the midwestern city) indicated that financial sponsors also
                                spent time with participating students.

                                With one exception, the four programs are relatively small and reported
                                few staff. The largest program has two administrators and eight paid
                                staff who provided services to 1,800 current students, as well as to 450
                                graduates and to 200 family members in the 1988-89 school year. In con-
                                trast, the program that targets one high school has one paid staff
                                member. Those working with elementary school students reported either
                                using unpaid staff or sharing staff with a larger program operating in
                                that city.

                                Page 36           GAO/PEMD-90-16 ProgramedGuaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                    Chapter 2
                    Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee   Programe

                    Staff in the two programs working with elementary school students
                    reported organizing few activities for students. As noted in discussing
                    the basic assumptions of such programs, providing services to entire eli-
                    gible schools or district groups is not part of their design; they aim to
                    increase students’ own efforts by offering greater rewards. The larger
                    programs did offer services to some students. In the program located in
                    only one high school, services went almost exclusively to the winners,
                    ranging from arranging mentors in the sponsoring corporation to limited
                    academic support along with cultural or recreational activities several
                    days a month. In the city-wide pay-for-grades program, a staff of “advo-
                    cates” worked with students not yet qualifying for the rewards to locate
                    needed services,

Summer Rogram       In addition, staff of the two larger programs reported organizing part-
                    time summer components of six weeks’ duration in the summer of 1989.
                    The program in one eastern city high school enrolled 16 students in a
                    college entrance-exam preparation course. The midwestern city program
                    enrolled 700 students in cultural and recreational activities and also
                    took students to visit colleges. Staff reported that this summer program
                    is open to all students in grades 7-12, rather than only to winners.

Work With Parents   These pay-for-grades programs, with limited objectives for changing
                    family expectations and aspirations for the student, neither required
                    much parental involvement nor provided services for family members.
                    The respondent at one program did report scheduling meetings at conve-
                    nient times for parents and providing transportation to meetings. Only
                    one of the four respondents highlighted parental resistance as a warning
                    to other similar programs.

Program F’unds      Expenses in these programs for the 1988-89 academic year, excluding
                    postsecondary financial aid, again varied according to the scope of the
                    effort. Respondents from the two elementary-school programs each
                    reported expenses under $10,000; the program that targets one high
                    school spent slightly over $25,000; and the district-wide effort reported
                    a budget of $885,000. The average cost per student was $111.

                    Three of the four pay-for-grades programs described their funds for
                    postsecondary educational expenses, ranging from one with $10,000
                    already set aside to another that stated only an estimate (that as much
                    as $10 million could eventually be needed, depending on students’ actual

                    Page 37           GAO/PEMD-96-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
Chapter 2
Four Types of Tuition-Guarantee   Programs

Even though the incentives seem modest and the level of services to stu-
dents relatively low, staff of two programs did report that similar pro-
grams implemented elsewhere could face financial problems involving
both the tuition guarantee and routine operations.

Page 38           GAO/PEW90-16       Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
Chapter 3

Issues in Programs’ Growth and Expansion

                                        Program officials named funding as the chief barrier they have faced
                                        and as the barrier most likely to confront others attempting similar
                                        projects; they singled out their staff as the main ingredient of any suc-
                                        cess they have experienced so far. From our own observations, we noted
                                        additional dilemmas the programs have encountered. This chapter
                                        presents data first from answers to our survey and then from our site
                                        visits to address the second evaluation question on key issues facing the
                                        programs now and likely to face others starting similar programs in the

                                        To learn about difficulties the programs had surmounted, and the
Implementation                          chances of others doing the same, we asked respondents to evaluate a
Barriers and Success                    list of barriers we hypothesized and to describe the three most impor-
Factors                                 tant in their own words, as well as what they had found helpful in
                                        reducing such barriers. We also asked them to identify factors that have
                                        generally contributed to the implementation of their programs and could
                                        be replicated by others considering starting similar programs. Some of
                                        the answers have been alluded to in sections of the previous chapter on
                                        individual program types; this section draws the material together to
                                        form a general picture of the issues others may face.

Implementation Barriers                 Six barriers were checked (from a list of 18) by 50 percent or more of
                                        the respondents: four concern funding, the fifth concerns parents’
                                        responses, and the sixth keeping track of students. Table 3.1 shows the
                                        percent of programs citing each of these six barriers.’

Table 3.1: Significant Barriers Other
Programs Are Likely to Encounter                                                                           Percent of current programs
                                        Barrier                                                                            citing barrier
                                        Funding to provide services                                                                         67%
                                        Maintaining contact with participating students                                                     63
                                        La;;;;zr;peration   by, or resistance from, family
                                        Funding to hire staff                                                                               58
                                        -- few staff or volunteers                                                                          58
                                        Funding to provide tuition                                                                          52

                                        ‘The free response question about the most important barriers produced similar items, with short-
                                        comings of funds and family support at the top of the list, though staff-related concerns such as
                                        inexperience (cited by 42 percent of respondents) appeared here and not in the checklist.

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    Program staff most frequently warned others to expect difficulties in
    funding services, and cited other funding problems as well, including
    funding staff and future tuition. Services are crucial to most of the pro-
    grams’ plans; without them, they are not much different from familiar
    scholarship programs making financial aid available to those who can
    on their own persevere through school. It is possible that it may be
    easier to raise funds for the novel and dramatic idea of the tuition guar-
    antee, with the accompanying visibility for everyone involved at emo-
    tional public ceremonies for those selected, than to raise funds for the
    less visible work in supportive services such as tutoring, running
    summer programs, work with parents, and the like. For example:

. A corporation established a sponsorship program with plans to con-
  tribute millions to the tuition-guarantee fund but at present contributes
  only $6000 per year for staff and services for the several-dozen young
  people in each program site.
. In another major city, corporate donors gave millions to endow a pay-
  for-grades program, but “advocates” to work with students in the
  schools were to be funded from public sources, and have not yet been.
l A major state school started a university-based program, funding a cen-
  tral staff and a summer program itself but relying on local school sys-
  tems to provide the school-year supportive services for the sponsored
  students. After several years of concern over the little extra help being
  provided, university officials told us that “the local schools were poorer
  than we realized.”

    Two other kinds of problems were also frequently cited. Staff at almost
    two thirds of the programs (63 percent) said others should expect diffi-
    culty keeping in contact with students, and 60 percent said family coop-
    eration was problematic. Many of the programs are still young and thus
    have not yet faced years of urban mobility among low-income families,
    and in addition their students are still required to attend school. Keeping
    in contact can only get harder, and the staff and sponsors have ambi-
    tious goals for providing services that require close contact days, nights,
    and weekends. Sponsorship programs especially, but the others in
    varying degrees as well, cannot be implemented by phone or mail.

    Given the sizable efforts invested in parent contact, far beyond those
    normally provided by the typical school program, the reported disap-
    pointment in parents’ cooperation sounds a discouraging note, since par-
    ents will continue to be a major factor in setting young people’s
    aspirations for education. More may, however, be involved here than
    familiar difficulties such as getting permission for an outing or

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                 arranging for quiet study space at home. The meaning of “parental
                 resistance” needs to be explored further to understand important fea-
                 tures especially of sponsorship programs. Some programs may deliber-
                 ately set up strong adult authority figures for youngsters, such as
                 successful community leaders serving as individual mentors, that some
                 parents may validly fear will compete with them. Sensitive program
                 designers will be dealing with this issue for years, and their experience
                 will be of great value to others.

                 We found small consensus on solutions for reducing the barriers
                 described here. Only one category of answers even came close to 50 per-
                 cent agreement, and this contained variations on the theme of getting
                 superb staff and volunteers. Only one other solution commanded the
                 loyalty of even a quarter of the group; about as many said they had in
                 fact found no solution to the barriers listed in table 3.1.

                 We asked about 18 possible barriers; while 6 were prominent in the
                 responses as described above, 12 were less frequently checked. These
                 areas of less perceived difficulty included turnover among staff and vol-
                 unteers; space for offices or student activities; cooperation from
                 teachers, school administrators, participating students or other stu-
                 dents, or social service agencies; transportation; getting information
                 from schools; and clarifying roles of sponsors, staff, and others.

SuccessFactors   We asked about factors that had contributed to the respondents’ success
                 that could be replicated by others who might be considering starting
                 similar programs. Just under half of those answering responded in terms
                 of what might explain outcomes with the students, and once again they
                 focused on staff, repeatedly listing the importance of good staff role
                 models and close mentoring of students generally. This reliance high-
                 lights a major unknown: the feasibility of finding large numbers of the
                 type of multiskilled young people who now serve as paid staff, and of
                 the generous older individuals who now serve as financial sponsors or
                 simply as mentors, if such programs were expanded significantly.

                 Second among success factors, 39 percent of respondents mentioned a
                 resource-related strategy-agency     networking to find resources and ser-
                 vices the students can use. This again underscores the concern seen in
                 other questions for locating all the funds and help that are needed. Less
                 than one third cited the importance of having had committed sponsors
                 or other groups supporting the program’s efforts. Schools and parents
                 were not commonly cited as key supportive factors, which suggests a

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                                         Issues in Programs’ Growth and Expansion

                                         degree of distance between the programs and the two major institutions
                                         of family and classroom that they are trying to work with. Table 3.2
                                         summarizes these data.

Table 3.2: Success Factors That Others
Might Replicate                                                                                    Percent of current pro rams
                                         Factor                                                                     citina I actor
                                         Good staff role models: mentoring                                                     49%
                                         Agency networking to get resources                                                    39
                                         Committed sponsors; other supportive groups                                           30
                                         Parents’ suDDort                                                                      23
                                         Schools’ support                                                                      23

                                         The programs we studied are tackling the formidable problems of disad-
Four Dilemmas                            vantaged youth. Sizable funds and enormous commitments of time and
Programs Face                            spirit are being applied to enlarge horizons and build needed skills;
                                         results are intriguing, as described in the next chapter: many students
                                         have already been aided by last-dollar programs, and early indicators in
                                         other programs are promising. Challenges lie ahead, however, in the
                                         form of dilemmas and problems still to be resolved. This section dis-
                                         cusses what we learned from detailed discussions with participants and
                                         observations of the six programs we visited (as shown in table 1.2, and
                                         including examples of all four program types described in chapter 2) on
                                         four issues: student selection, staffing, program structure, and relations
                                         with local schools.

Student Selection                        Who should get a tuition guarantee? Programs differ dramatically in
                                         their answers, with significant implications for their operations. Spon-
                                         sorship programs that typically take all those in a graduating elemen-
                                         tary school group are proud of their inclusive philosophy that
                                         confidence in the young people, together with supportive services, can
                                         bring all of them to the doorstep of college and beyond. Advocates reject
                                         more selective approaches as inequitable and as an invalid prejudgment
                                         of students’ potential.

                                         Advocates of last-dollar programs that are typically open to any gradu-
                                         ating senior headed for postsecondary education suggest, on the other
                                         hand, that scarce tuition-guarantee resources are best used at that late
                                         stage and on those who have proved they can at least complete high
                                         school. Such advocates probably believe that in any case there are not
                                         enough mentors and sponsors to offer intensive special attention as the

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    sponsorship programs do to all those leaving elementary school, hence
    some selective approach is needed, if only natural selection as students
    move through the upper grades.

    We found that, in practice, programs that may not have started with a
    selective philosophy do end up choosing students to work with. For

. Staff in a program with 86 students reported spending a great deal of
  time and effort in the first two years with about 20 of the most troubled
  individuals and achieving disappointing results. After much discussion,
  the sponsor and staff agreed to spend less time with them starting in the
  third year and to shift resources to “the middle group-the ones that
  may make it with our help.”
. Staff and board members in another, much larger program said that it
  had proved difficult to raise funds and provide services to the full group
  of almost 2,000. A principal in the host school district said “they should
  have chosen students who have the best chance of succeeding.” Board
  members told us they had stopped further planned expansion until they
  could clarify whether they had the ability to help all those involved.
l A sponsor directed that students be selected at random for a major tui-
  tion-guarantee in a school serving disadvantaged urban children, Pro-
  gram staff decided, however, to choose individuals who would be most
  likely to benefit, according to teachers’ judgments of children’s accom-
  plishments and home situations. When we interviewed some parents,
  they seemed articulate and involved with their children’s schooling, sug-
  gesting that a nonrandom group had been selected.
l A university-based program directed participating school districts to
  choose junior high school students with promise of eventually com-
  pleting high-school college preparatory courses with a B average (so
  that they would qualify for university admission and have a good
  chance to succeed in college work). We visited one school district in this
  program and found the staff had not tried to assess promise generally;
  instead, they had narrowed the pool to include only those who had
  already achieved a B average or better.

    Clearly, programs which begin with a wide range of students face siz-
    able challenges in instilling motivation for higher education in all of
    them. Building a powerful group climate of shared expectations will be
    more difficult if there is a very resistant subgroup. Those close to the
    program may find it hard to keep their faith when some adults who also
    work with the young people (such as teachers or administrators in the
    schools) may not be willing to accept the sponsors’ unconditional trust

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           in the young people; in several of our visits, such observers of the pro-
           grams cited “ungrateful” students, “students who shouldn’t be
           involved,” and similar views suggesting they thought students had
           failed to “earn” the guarantee and showed too little connection between
           visible behavior and the tremendous gift of the tuition guarantee. Staff
           efforts may be heavily directed towards those youngsters with troubled
           home lives, involvements with school discipline, or the police.

           On the other hand, selecting students (in, at the start, or out, after some
           period of failure to thrive in a program) raises difficult questions of the
           criteria to be used, especially when selection must be made years in
           advance of the final goal of high school completion and college. Post-
           poning selection until the end of high school solves that problem, but at
           the cost of failing to reach the many students with potential who left
           school earlier. Sponsoring a very diverse group appeals to values of
           inclusiveness and equity but only drives the selection process under-
           ground, as limited staff make hard choices about rationing their time
           and effort.

Staffing   Staffing is a crucial issue, especially to sponsorship programs where the
           staff will have the longest and most intense relationship with the young
           people involved. In describing factors affecting success, survey respon-
           dents repeatedly identified proper staff selection, and we saw that in
           detail in our site visits. It is not surprising that such programs must
           struggle to find staff who will agree to be responsible for encouraging
           growth in aspirations, in academic skills, and very much more for a
           group of disadvantaged young people, around the clock, in school and
           out of school, summer and winter, sometimes for as long as 6 years. We
           identified three staffing dilemmas: workload, skills, and commitment
           over time.

           In sponsorship programs we visited, we observed a wide range of staff
           workloads. One enjoyed the services of three full-time staff for 100 stu-
           dents, as well as an additional corps of regular teachers paid extra for
           an after-school program, a part-time psychologist, and frequent involve-
           ment of the sponsor directly with the youngsters. Another could muster
           only one staff person for every 140 students, with volunteer mentors for
           some but not all. A third program had one part-time staff person for 35
           students. All shared ambitious goals for work with students and their
           families over 6 years (and, in one case, 12 years), but the great differ-
           ences in resources suggest some will be better able to deliver than
           others. Even in the first and most richly supplied program, where the

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    conditions were commonly regarded by observers as deluxe, after only
    two years of operations the first set of staff had been replaced, and the
    second team was exhilarated but tired. And, as we finished our field
    work in summer 1989, this program’s staff abandoned long-awaited one-
    week vacations to pull the whole group of students and parents together
    to deal with the grief and mourning caused by the tragic shooting death
    of one young participant. The youngsters’ needs are so pressing and
    vivid, and the programs’ goals are so large, that staff may be tempted to
    expand expectations infinitely; it thus is not clear how programs will
    find a way to make the workload manageable.

    Secondly, programs face dilemmas in deciding what staff skills to
    emphasize in hiring. On one hand, programs of all kinds aim to offer a
    distinct alternative to the life of the street, to emphasize the importance
    of education, and to provide the aid and support that are needed to
    increase students’ chances of academic success. Should staff, therefore,
    be expected to be models of successful college graduation, academic
    achievement, and specific school-related skills? Should they be expected
    to teach where needed? On the other hand, especially in the sponsorship
    programs, staff need to walk the streets, find youngsters when they skip
    school, find the parents when they resist involvement, cajole resources
    from an enormous range of potential providers, and know and appre-
    ciate the positive aspects (as well as the pressures and risks) of life in a
    disadvantaged urban community, even as they suggest alternative paths
    out of it. Here, the staff need empathy, firmness, savvy, and perspec-
    tive-traits   that may come from a range of experiences not necessarily
    gained in school.

    We noted a type of backlash that may affect hiring decisions and lead to
    imbalance in staff skills. Other programs may be viewed as having failed
    the sponsored youth or not having their best interests in mind, resulting
    in anger and hostility towards the programs and their professional staff
    (social workers, educators, juvenile justice workers, and other staff).
    Such views, in turn, may lead hiring in the new programs to deem-
    phasize such professional backgrounds even though the sponsorship
    efforts need staff who possess the formal skills represented by school
    success and degrees, along with many other talents.

    This ambivalence was reflected in survey responses to a question about
    specific elements desirable in staff backgrounds. Just over half the pro-
    grams indicated they valued college graduation, while 94 percent
    checked that staff “must have strong rapport, relationships with stu-
    dents.” A third of the respondents believed youth agency experience

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was good, but just 20 percent wanted teaching experience, and only 9
percent thought social welfare agency work would be a useful

Programs we visited tried to have it all, typically by hiring young
minority college graduates who knew at first-hand the struggles the pro-
grams’ youth faced, but who had not had long careers in bureaucratic
settings2 One sponsorship program found two staff who, before
attending nearby colleges, had gone through the very local high school
the group was headed for. Another hired a mix of graduates and non-
graduates, typically the first in their families to attempt higher educa-
tion and many from the same neighborhoods as the selected students
(though the director told us that, of the 13, the most effective was a
woman who never finished her degree). Last-dollar and pay-for-grades
programs have fewer staff and more modest goals; thus, they tend not to
face such serious dilemmas in hiring. In general, multiple goals require
multiple staff skills; to the extent that staff are hired for their street
wisdom or community strengths rather than for their talents with aca-
demics, programs will need to provide such models and help through
other channels.

Commitment, overload, and burnout are the final staffing issues we
noted. All the tuition-guarantee programs involve to some degree com-
mitted staff working hard to improve the chances for disadvantaged
youngsters. Keeping hope alive in such work is a generic problem. The
sponsorship programs, with the most ambitious goals and the longest-
term commitments to participants, are the most demanding (and per-
haps stretched most thinly in resources, as survey responses suggest). In
hopes of providing a continuity of adult support that may be otherwise
lacking for the sponsored young people, programs asked young staff to
sign on for as much as 6 years.

Long commitments to demanding work must create stress. Simple staff
shortages are an obvious problem; we noted one program with 35 spon-
sored first-graders that had only one part-time staff member, based in a
community organization, to handle all out-of-school activities. Since
work with the families will be important in achieving long-term educa-
tional success for these youngsters, it seemed to us that this one indi-
vidual will be significantly overloaded. Even if adult-to-student ratios

2The national IHAD foundation originally did not suggest, or require, that staff of affiliated projects
hold college degrees, though some college was encouraged as a criterion. This has changed, and staff
are now expected to be college graduates.

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                        are more favorable, the goals of changing the expectations and pro-
                        viding or reinforcing needed skills for future success for groups of dis-
                        advantaged youth are bound to be unfulfilled to some degree, especially
                        in the short run, with consequent morale problems and burnout. We did
                        not see the programs, that are mostly still in their first few years,
                        addressing these issues directly, though staff graphically described their
                        weariness and frustrations along with their accomplishments.

Program Structure       The basic dilemma programs face here is how much time to devote to
                        formalizing what they are doing, especially to clarifying and codifying
                        the roles that the diverse participants take on. The programs, while
                        new, also bring together complex combinations of familiar ingredients-
                        wealthy individuals or companies who are financial sponsors, public
                        schools, universities and others in higher education, foundations, com-
                        munity-based organizations, and more. They aim, however, to go beyond
                        old familiar programs, to bring to long-standing problems new kinds of
                        staff and ideas, resources, and a fresh spirit of innovation free of the
                        limits imposed by the accustomed patterns and the accepted boundaries
                        of existing organizations. Programs with multiple goals, as well as with
                        growing staffs and possibly even multiple sites, face the question of
                        whether to openly confront and work to reconcile the diverse perspec-
                        tives of participants,

                        Examples of these dilemmas of whether and how to bring structure to
                        programs that we saw in our visits include the following:

                    9 A program may be unsure how formally and consistently to structure
                      the staff’s work, and may even have a countervailing rationale of inno-
                      vation and “letting them just develop whatever works best with the
                      kids.” Formalization may seem a part of (discredited) past practice that
                      in some agencies may have been literally “by the book.” One sponsor-
                      ship program with a staff of 13 simply asked new staff to follow older
                      ones around for a week as their basic training and orientation. Many
                      hundreds of adult volunteers worked with the sponsored youth, but
                      these volunteers had very little guidance.
                    l Multisite programs face even more obvious issues of consistency. The
                      national IHAD foundation now offers suggested policies and other gui-
                      dance to new sponsors seeking affiliation (for example on responsibly
                      conserving the tuition-guarantee funds, on staff qualifications and
                      salary levels, and on how sponsors should personally deal with spon-
                      sored students in areas such as gift giving). But even a basic issue such
                      as student selection was handled differently in various sites of both a

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  nationwide sponsorship program we visited and a statewide university-
  based program. It may be only a matter of time before some program’s
  process of choosing individuals or groups for such sizable benefits as a
  multiyear program of services and a tuition guarantee is challenged for
  fairness, and inconsistency across a program’s sites may emerge as a
  weakness at that point.
. Programs link diverse organizations as well: staff employed by one
  organization must work inside another, a situation which offers many
  opportunities for conflicts over goals and activities. Sponsorship pro-
  grams typically give the major funds for annual program operations to a
  local community-based organization, such as a settlement house or
  neighborhood youth center, which then provides a location for meetings
  and recreation activities and hires the core staff. These staff work in
  schools for much of the year, however, and must closely collaborate
  with teachers and principals who find it very novel to have a resident
  advocate or watchdog for one small group of youngsters asking, for
  example, to look at grades or trying to get a track placement upgraded.
  We noted that continuing effort was needed to get work space for pro-
  grams’ staff (always at a premium in schools), to get approval to meet
  students during school (limited in several places to contact only during
  brief lunch periods), and to see students’ school records (not allowed in
  some cases). “Who do these people report to?” was an issue constantly
  under negotiation as community-based organizations’ staff tried to get
  established in the schools to help the sponsored students.
l Similarly, the last-dollar program we visited provided special staff to
  give high school students extra information and advice about college
  financial aid, to supplement the regular counselors who may lack that
  technical expertise. Program officials said that, although they were
  eager to meet with anyone, their staff tried hard to establish a clear,
  separate role and limits to their counseling, including taking care to
  refer students to the regular counselors for all discussions of students’
  overall ability, general academic goals, or personal problems. They said
  these efforts had not uniformly paid off and that they were still, after
  years in the schools, distrusted by the regular counselors. The regular
  school counselors in some cases reserved the right to approve or disap-
  prove students’ contact with the last-dollar program staff and even tried
  to steer away some students who seemed to them “not college material.”
  This is in part the selection dilemma (trying to predict who can benefit),
  but it is also the issue of program structure and who has the authority
  to make key decisions.

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                       The diverse mix of organizations and people involved in tuition-guar-
                       antee programs may help guard against a stifling orthodoxy and prema-
                       ture closure about project approaches and staffing.3 Conversely,
                       unresolved structural confusions seemed fairly common in programs we
                       visited (what was most important, who would do what, who had the last
                       word on key matters), and, over the long term, continuing debate can be
                       a drain on the time and good will of participants.

Relations With Local   Tuition-guarantee programs we studied were outside interventions
Schools                working with the public schools, schools whose own limited ability to
                       reach and motivate poor and minority youngsters is-usually only
                       implicitly-the   reason for the programs’ existence. The dilemma arises
                       as programs try to balance their need for smooth relations and coopera-
                       tion with schools to assure continued access, and any views they may
                       hold on the schools’ shortcomings and changes needed to benefit their
                       students or the more general population.

                       Some programs largely accepted the situation they faced in the local
                       schools. For example, an early IHAD sponsor stated a clear philosophy
                       that “students can learn anywhere if they’re properly motivated.”
                       While not at all satisfied with the workings of the urban system that
                       enrolled the selected students, this individual worked chiefly with the
                       individual, sponsored young people so that they aggressively pursued
                       all the resources that were available. The sponsor reported making only
                       a few personal calls to high officials to get egregious inequities experi-
                       enced by the group adjusted. In fact, the wide publicity given, and the
                       community support needed for, the sponsorship type of programs may
                       lead visible sponsors to mute their criticism of the schools and to take on
                       a stance of partnership.

                       Staff certainly were conscious of teaching students how to tolerate cer-
                       tain situations. At an urban sponsorship program we visited, where stu-
                       dents in individual classes were said to frequently face the familiar
                       barriers of insensitive teachers, lackluster lessons and assignments, and
                       scarce materials, staff said they told students to “adopt the slave
                       mentality-just    take it, do what they say, look towards the future, and

                       3After reviewing several programs she judged successful in helping disadvantaged people (including
                       the original I Have a Dream program in New York City), one author has stressed the common factor
                       of their willingness to break from common patterns of service delivery. According to her observa-
                       tions, successful programs typically included just this feature of “crossing traditional professional
                       and bureaucratic boundaries,” encouraging flexibility of staff and program structure, and redefining
                       professionals’ roles as needed. See Lisbeth B. Schorr (with Daniel Schorr), Within Our Reach:
                       Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage (New York Doubleday, 1988), p. 267.

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try to survive.” A university-based program we visited controlled only
the on-campus summer session; all the rest of the program for the
selected students was designed and delivered by local school officials
and subject to only limited influence from campus staff.

This acceptance of the status quo does not prevent programs from
seeking the most favorable conditions to be found among the range of
variations present within the system. For example, one sponsorship pro-
gram we visited carefully selected the area of the city to work in as one
with an encouraging educational climate, selected the elementary school
whose graduates were sponsored from among the best, and further
arranged a unique scheme to keep the group together in one interme-
diate school judged to have a strong program and good leadership. In
addition, the program was assigned a central office official to work in
the school as liaison between the project and the system, and got a cen-
tral office official and selected staff to operate an after-school program
for the sponsored group. This was very special treatment, which could
serve to mute discontent with generally difficult circumstances for stu-
dents in the larger system.

We saw, then, few examples of programs working to improve education
 for students beyond those directly involved in the tuition guarantee-
just as one would expect in view of the programs’ aims and theories as
 described earlier.4 School- or district-wide pay-for-grades or last-dollar
programs, by definition, reach many more than a typical sponsorship
program of 100 can, but even so the programs may not go beyond their
own strategy to draw implications on wider issues-for example, to sug-
gest that educational changes may be necessary if few students are
earning tuition funds in pay-for-grade competitions. This was true of the
one pay-for-grades program we visited; based on our interviews with
 student winners, it appeared the rewards had gone to those with well-
 developed academic skills and strong family and community support
 who would have had a good chance of success in any case. The staff had
 accepted the fact that the scheme offered little for those at the margin
or even farther from the winners’ circle. The major city’s last-dollar pro-
gram we visited was listed as one part of a very aggressive business-led
 plan to both support the schools and press for major improvements, but
the last-dollar program in practice seemed to work independently of
those wider educational changes whose need it revealed. For example,
 although the last-dollar program had operated for some years and in

40nly 9 percent of the survey respondents indicated that reform of public schools was one of the four
most important goals for their project.

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Iesuea in Programs Growth and Expansion

that time served a small fraction of the thousands of students in the
system, only recently had there been exploration of improving college
awareness at earlier grades so that aspirations could be increased long
before the junior year when the program now begins. Just the existence
of the externally-provided student aid counseling in itself suggested a
gap in district services, but it was not clear that the district was on that
account under any pressure to improve its own counseling services.

Thus, the private-sector tuition-guarantee programs reach a sizable but
still small number of students, and they seem not to be engaged in
broader reform strategies. Expecting more from them is unfair as it is
not their aim, and is to some degree unrealistic in light of the major
efforts needed with the students now involved. Perhaps their example
can generate broader action to improve opportunities for other students
with similar needs; if not, the programs themselves will have contrib-
uted only a small amount to the overall improvement needed in educa-
tional opportunity for disadvantaged youth.

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                       Sponsorship and university-based programs report success in keeping
                       groups of selected students intact, and last-dollar and pay-for-grades
                       programs have helped hundreds of students with tuition guarantees.
                       Individual programs report significant interim effects on students. This
                       chapter addresses the third evaluation question concerning outcomes by
                       reporting on all the early evidence of results that we could gather from
                       our survey and site visits. It also discusses the longer-term potential for
                       evaluation of results, including survey information on data being col-
                       lected and evaluation plans, as well as site-visit observations on pro-
                       grams’ apparent interest in learning from experience. The chapter
                       concludes with data on income differences among young men and
                       women with different levels of education, to demonstrate the potential
                       payoff if the programs are effective.

                       Our survey did not request data on programs’ attainment of their goals,
Results So Far         such as that of improving students’ school performance or raising their
                       aspirations, for two reasons. We had no feasible way to confirm the
                       answers, and the information could have been gathered in so many dif-
                       ferent ways that aggregation would not be possible. For the newer pro-
                       grams, we analyzed programs’ holding power (or retention) by
                       comparing survey data on the numbers of students originally selected
                       with whether they were still in school and involved in the programs at
                       the time of our questionnaire. As an indicator of the results of last-dollar
                       and pay-for-grades programs, we asked how many students had gradu-
                       ated and received tuition funds, and the amounts.

Sponsorship Programs   Based on a single indicator of results to date-retention,  or the extent to
                       which the selected group of students continues intact-sponsorship       pro-
                       grams appear to be flourishing. The average program selected a total of
                       106 students and reported an average of 98 still affiliated by the time of
                       our survey in 1988-89. (Only 4 programs had graduated students.) Four-
                       teen reported losing an average of 5 students for reasons that included
                       moving, dropping out of school, or being terminated from the program.
                       Challenges lie ahead, of course; in view of the strong possibility of an
                       increased scattering of the sponsored students during the coming high
                       school years, it was not surprising that 20 programs noted that other
                       similar efforts will likely face administrative problems in maintaining
                       contact with participating students.

                       Individual programs we visited had varied retention accomplishments.
                       The largest sponsorship program we visited, with about 1,900 junior

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Evaluation Results to Dam and the Chauces
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high school students, reported losing 169, or less than 10 percent, in its
first two years. On the other hand, 4 of 35 students moved away in the
first year in another program that selected its sponsored student group
at a very young age, suggesting the possibility that few of the original
students may be left after several years.

Because graduation is far in the future for most sponsored students, few
programs had thought through details of how they will eventually fur-
nish the promised tuition guarantee to a selected student who moved
from the program’s influence at an early point.

Where possible in our visits, we noted interim results beyond retention.
In one sponsorship program now two years old and with its students
finishing 7th grade, school staff told us that the group’s attendance and
test scores had improved significantly during the two years, that their
test scores were better than those of other 7th graders in the same
school, and that their school grades had not improved.* Students and
parents we talked with believed that the program had major effects on
students’ school work, including the improving of reading skills.
Improved academic performance, especially on tests, is plausible for
many students in this program because a large number attended the
extensive after-school program, described in chapter 2, as well as a
summer program, both of which included academics and test-taking

Results of one long-running sponsorship program appear to be very
favorable. Thirty-four, or over half the original group of 61 sixth
graders sponsored beginning in 1981 by the first New York City I Have a
Dream program, are said to be enrolled at least part-time in public and
private colleges. Another nine at least graduated from high school or
received general equivalency diplomas. Eight left the neighborhood, and
little is known of their progress. Four others were described by the pro-
gram sponsor, in an August 1989 press interview, as “lost souls” who
were unlikely ever to take up the tuition-guarantee offer. One of the
original group was in prison but, reportedly with program encourage-
ment, was taking college courses there. A New York school official, for-
merly an administrator in the East Harlem area where the sponsored

 ‘School officials cited confidentiality restrictions and would not show us documentation even of sum-
mary analyses. Thus, we could not confirm the reported student outcomes. Program staff had seen
individual students’ grades and test scores, but added that school officials would not share the com-
parative analyses of sponsored and non-sponsored students, even when asked to by the sponsor.

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                       students lived in 1981, recalled the typical low achievement at the ele-
                       mentary school they attended and observed that “if 50 percent of those
                       kids are going to college, it’s a small miracle.“2

Last-Dollar Programs   Last-dollar programs working with graduating seniors can show results
                       sooner than sponsorship efforts. In 1988-89, the average program (of 10
                       answering the question) awarded about $154,000 in last-dollar grants to
                       239 students. From all the last-dollar programs responding to our
                       survey, 2,389 students received grants totalling $1.54 million. The pro-
                       grams varied in whether they concentrated funds: some served many
                       and others only a few. The average grant in the programs ranged from
                       $166 to $1,457, and the awards were spread across groups of students
                       ranging in size from 17 to 700. On the average, programs awarded stu-
                       dents just under $800 each in 1988-89.

                       Several programs have surveyed recipients or analyzed records and
                       published the results. For example, in 1988, the Cleveland Scholarship
                       Program surveyed a random sample of 2,005 students who were given
                       last-dollar awards in the years 1967-83 (but obtained a response rate of
                       only 38 percent). The data showed that 60 percent of respondents were
                       minorities and that most attended four-year schools, Overall, 77 percent
                       said they had finished college, and 82 percent said the aid was impor-
                       tant in helping them go. For those recipients who went to four-year col-
                       leges, completion rates were 85 percent for white respondents and 75
                       percent for black. The low survey response rate suggests caution, how-
                       ever, in generalizing to the whole group of program participants.

                       Boston’s ACCESS   last-dollar program reported data on the 408 students
                       assisted since its start with the city’s high school class of 1985, including
                       an 80 percent rate of continuation from the first to second year of col-
                       lege. This program also pointed to citywide data showing an increase in
                       those going to postsecondary school of any kind from 50 percent early in
                       the decade to almost 60 percent in 1988. However, the citywide data
                       reflect many programs and influences in addition to ACCESS.”

                       “Information in this paragraph is from Joseph Berger, “East Harlem Students Clutch a College
                       Dream,” New York Times, August 27,1989, pp. 1,28. The program sponsor gave similar figures to us
                       in an interview six months earlier on February 3,1989.

                       3A larger citywide effort to improve high school graduation rates and academic performance, called
                       the Boston Compact, includes promise of a job ln a local firm for successful graduates. The effects of
                       the Compact are as yet uncertain and were not part of our study.

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                          Because such reports typically         lack comparison groups of similar stu-
                          dents who did not receive the        program benefits, it is not currently pos-
                          sible to draw firm conclusions        attributing the participants’ high school
                          or higher education outcomes         to the programs.

University-Based          Almost all the university-based respondents reported on the survey that
Programs                  the students chosen or selecting themselves into participation had con-
                          tinued in school and in their involvement in the program activities with
                          little or no attrition. The statewide university-based program we visited
                          had been in operation only one year. After relying on local school dis-
                          tricts for services beyond the summer institute at the campus, the pro-
                          gram had discovered that little had in fact been done to aid the students.
                          Thus, most participants we interviewed did not identify outcomes other
                          than general pride in selection and satisfaction with key events such as
                          the induction ceremony and the campus session in the summer.

Pay-For-Grades Programs   Early results in the two programs with wide eligibility show that many
                          students did not meet the requirements to receive funds, which in turn
                          raises basic questions about this approach to helping students. Just
                          under one third of the students in grades 7-l 2 in the large midwestern
                          city failed to earn even one C (and thus qualify), and 96 percent of the
                          students in the eastern city high school (where all A and B grades were
                          needed) did not qualify. (Outcome data were not available for the two
                          programs that targeted elementary schools.) It will be of interest to
                          learn how the experience of low success rates is interpreted by educa-
                          tors and sponsors, and whether any program changes are made. It is not
                          yet possible to infer much about whether a modest financial incentive
                          linked to grades is, in itself, influential, or whether it needs to be larger.

                          We anticipated several possible side effects of pay-for-grades programs,
                          but none surfaced in the opinion data provided to us. No respondent
                          mentioned, either in the survey or in our visits, that grade inflation had
                          occurred as a result of the program, that teachers felt pressured about
                          their grading practices, or that students had systematically taken dif-
                          ferent sets of courses so that it would be easier to earn the reward.

                          Those leaving school and beginning to collect their accumulated tuition
                          funds in 198889 included 486 students in the midwestern citywide pro-
                          gram who earned an average of $138. The nine graduates who collected
                          funds from their eastern city high school program received an average
                          of $667. (Funds in such programs may be paid out over several years, so

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                   chapter 4
                   Evahation Resulta to Date and the Chances
                   of Learning More

                   students may have earned a total sum greater than is indicated by these
                   amounts.) The programs reported paying out a total of $73,000 in 198%

                   In addition to looking for results, which we knew were likely to be
Learning From      sparse, we looked also at whether there would in future be more oppor-
Experience         tunities to learn from these interesting and novel programs. Each is
                   trying many ideas and needs to sort out what works and retain the best
                   practices; each also needs to show results in order to obtain or validate
                   continued support. In addition, however, such knowledge can accumu-
                   late and generalize, allowing others to begin similar programs more effi-
                   ciently with shorter periods of search for workable practice, even if
                   originators have no particular expansionist interests or aims.

Evaluation Plans   Seventy-nine percent of all respondents said they were formally evalu-
                   ating progress towards their goals. (There were not significant differ-
                   ences among the four program types in these answers about evaluation
                   under way.) Very few programs of any type had engaged outsiders to do
                   these evaluations; most reported they had assigned the evaluation to
                   internal staff.

                   In our visits, evaluation was typically not very visible. There were sev-
                   eral exceptions. At one university-based program, a professor had vol-
                   unteered to systematically design an evaluation and gather data; with
                   university support, she was seeking outside funds to expand the study.
                   And, at a major citywide pay-for-grades program, an outside organiza-
                   tion had been contracted to do an evaluation.

Data Collection    Our survey also asked about data routinely kept on students, to allow us
                   to assess the feasibility of evaluation apart from programs’ intentions.
                   Table 4.1 shows basic data kept by most programs (80 percent or more)
                   and other data kept by fewer (74 percent or less). Those few programs
                   already paying out (not shown in the table) would of course have
                   records on recipients, schools attended, amounts paid, and the like.

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                                  Evaluation Reeults to Date and the Chances
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Table 4.1: Student Records Kept
                                                                                                       Percent of programs k;t{;i
                                  Student record
                                  Records kept by most programs
                                  Home address, phone                                                                                  97%
                                  Current grade level                                                                                   96
                                  Schools attended                                                                                     94
                                  Academic wades                                                                                        93
                                  Attendance    at program activities                                                                   81
                                  Records kept by fewer programs
                                  Test scores                                                                                           74
                                  Family contacts                                                                                       74
                                  Attendance    at school                                                                               67
                                  Familv information                                                                                    65
                                  Swoort    services used                                                                               57
                                  School discipline actions                                                                            48
                                  Performance in program activities                                                                    4.5

                                  Thus, data would be available from a sizable number of programs on
                                  students’ progress through school and their performance as shown in
                                  grades and tests. Such data would permit some description. Evaluation
                                  comparing students’ accomplishments before and after the program
                                  would require additional information. In addition, evaluation of the dif-
                                  ferential impact of parts of programs could be difficult, since data on
                                  use of support services seem to be kept less commonly.4 Evaluators
                                  could ask retrospective opinions about important parts of the program,
                                  but participants’ memories about rates of use of services would be unre-
                                  liable due to the many years involved in most sponsorship programs.

                                  Determining whether a program caused certain results requires knowl-
                                  edge of what would have happened in its absence. Press accounts of pro-
                                  grams’ effects may use statistics on the general results of schooling (for
                                  example, test scores or drop out rates) in the students’ city or neighbor-
                                  hood as the comparison, assuming the students in both the regular
                                  school and the tuition-guarantee programs are roughly similar. Pro-
                                  grams do, however, select students to participate, in varying ways (as
                                  previously discussed), so the participants may not be exactly typical.

                                  4At a sponsorship program we visited, important data were being gathered on students’ attendance
                                  and performance in different activities of the program, but not out of interest in evaluation; the data
                                  were used to administer a complex scheme of incentive awards.

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                             Evaluation Results to Date and the Chances
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                             The university-based program we visited noted that a group of students
                             nominated but not selected could form a comparison group. However, no
                             data were being systematically gathered on them, and we didn’t hear of
                             such conscious comparisons elsewhere. Use of this kind of comparison
                             group for evaluation purposes would be difficult if not started early in
                             the basic plans. We noted above that survey respondents cited keeping
                             track of students as they move, for the long life of some of the tuition
                             guarantees, as an administrative problem; it will affect evaluation as
                             well to the extent that students are lost when they leave the programs
                             and cannot be found for later inquiry. Attrition is reported as slight in
                             most programs now, but most sponsorship programs have years still to
                             run before students even enter higher education, and all types of pro-
                             grams face problems in keeping track of students after the high school

Interest in Serving as a     Evaluation may be given less attention because influencing others is not
Model                        a common goal for programs we surveyed. Only 28 percent of respon-
                             dents selected the goal of serving as a model for wider replication as one
                             of their four most important aims. Thus, any use of scarce staff time or
                             use of time in student and parent interaction to collect data on program
                             operations, analyze its meaning, and generally try to learn from experi-
                             ence to help others may have only modest support.

Links With Prior Federal     We found that virtually no one we spoke to at any site mentioned the
Efforts to Increase Access   federal Upward Bound program. Though it does not have a tuition-guar-
                             antee component, the Upward Bound program is similar in its goal of
                             attempting to generate skills and motivation necessary for success in
                             education beyond high school among low-income and potential first-gen-
                             eration college students who are enrolled in high schools or who are vet-
                             erans. It is similar also in some of the program components used, such as
                             various kinds of supportive services and enrichment experiences,
                             summer sessions on campus, and short-term money incentives such as
                             stipends for the students. Federal funds of $80.4 million were awarded
                             in academic year 198889 to 404 programs (chiefly at colleges and uni-
                             versities) that enrolled about 31,000 students. The average federal cost
                             per participant was reported by the Department of Education to be

                             Though the federal government has sponsored this effort to increase
                             college attendance of disadvantaged and minority students for over 20
                             years, we did not hear a single reference that suggested the new private-

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                        sector programs in the 1980’s either built upon any base of knowledge
                        from prior Upward Bound efforts or keep in touch with such programs

                        There has been no recent evaluation of Upward Bound’s results, though
                        one is planned to begin in 1990. It would be of great interest to have
                        comparable data on the federal and nonfederal programs that have sim-
                        ilar goals.

The Utility of Formal   Sponsorship programs have many segments that require different
Study and Evaluation    resources and arrangements (after-school teaching, personal mentoring,
                        and enrichment experiences); it would be useful to determine which are
                        most important so that resources can be targeted most effectively. It
                        will be especially interesting to evaluate the success of what is most
                        unique about these programs- that is, the sponsor-student interaction.
                        Such an assessment would need to be sensitive enough to capture and
                        analyze what may be a wide range of styles of mentoring, and to learn
                        how successful mentors work towards new and different goals with
                        young people without alienating their parents.

                        The pay-for-grades programs will offer an early case study and test of
                        t.he use of evaluation. In one program we visited, we noted that a very
                        small proportion of students had received funds; a group of the winners
                        that we interviewed said they had always planned to attend college,
                        which suggests that the newly-available funds had been a reward but
                        perhaps not much of an added incentive for them; and a group of
                        nonwinners expressed more anger than motivation. Other parts of the
                        school program were perhaps being strengthened to provide improved
                        chances for a greater number of students to win, but in portraying the
                        sponsor’s efforts, the program coordinator described scattered services
                        that went only to winners. The large-scale effort of the same type in the
                        midwestern city also resulted in a great many nonwinners, even though
                        the qualifying grades were lower. These observations raise the question
                        of whether the program sponsors will examine the data and reflect on
                        their results so far. In turn, that reflection may suggest a need for
                        review of the basic assumptions of such programs, which are in marked
                        contrast to the assumption of other tuition-guarantee programs that
                        motivation can be unlocked in a much wider range of students given
                        financial guarantees and supportive services.

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                     If evaluations that find small effects lead to the ending of programs,
                     they may, over time, stifle the general risk-taking and initiative neces-
                     sary for the repeated efforts of trying to find solutions to important
                     problems. Program designers may fear such a negative outcome and
                     accordingly distrust evaluation, with two unfortunate effects: program
                     results, whether good or not, are not documented, and thus little is
                     learned about which of the programs’ assumptions may be correct.

                     More education benefits everyone in the nation, not just those who stay
Hypothetical Costs   in school longer and get the diploma or the degree. The major state and
and Benefits         local efforts to reform pre-college education in recent years, and the con-
                     tinuing concerns over rates of access to higher education, show a gen-
                     eral awareness that the quality of the nation’s economic and civic life
                     are linked to better schooling results. Such benefits to society of a more
                     educated workforce and citizenry, though difficult to quantify, are
                     undoubted, and provide the basic rationale for interest in the results of
                     the programs we reviewed for this report.

                     We also looked for information on costs and benefits at the individual
                     level. We found, however, that we could only compare costs and results
                     across programs hypothetically, since we have incomplete cost data and
                     no evidence on long-term outcomes. The most expensive type, those
                     sponsoring individuals or a class of young people, reported average
                     annual per student expenses of $923, though this is almost certainly an
                     underestimate of the overall costs. Per student, such programs could
                     therefore cost an average of about $11,000 by the time a student com-
                     pletes college, assuming 6 years of school and summer programs and 4
                     years of tuition guarantee.6

                     In terms of benefits to individuals, income comparisons among those
                     with different levels of education provide one yardstick. The average
                     young college graduate in 1987 earned much more than a high school
                     graduate of the same age, $8,090 more for men and $6,553 for women.
                     The differences are even greater when college graduates’ earnings are
                     compared to earnings of those who dropped out of high school. Table 4.2

                     “To estimate the higher education cost we used New York state as an example. A typical sponsorship
                     program guarantees to meet the cost of 4 years of tuition and registration fees for a resident at the
                     state university. In New York, that amounts to $6280. The hypothetical costs would be less in states
                     with lower-cost schools, and actual payouts could be lower depending on students’ eligibility for other
                     aid. The $11,000 figure thus represents an estimate of the cost of the most expensive sponsorship
                     program. Hypothetical total costs for the other three types of programs would be lower because most
                     start later in high school, cost less while the student is in school (ranging from $111 to $431 annually
                     per student), and provide benefits much smaller than full tuition.

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                                        shows the average 1987 earnings of young men and women with dif-
                                        ferent levels of education. This incentive to complete higher education
                                        has grown, also; the earnings gap has widened through the 1980’s with
                                        the demand for more and more skilled individuals, following a period of
                                        concern about possibly “overeducated” Americans in the 1970’s. The
                                        differences shown in the table are for one year; across a working life-
                                        time, the aggregate differences favoring those with more education
                                        would clearly be very large.”

Table 4.2: Average Annual Earnings of
Persons 25-29, by Education Level@                                                                                            Earnings
                                        Education completed                                                                 Males Females
                                        I-3 years of high school                                                           $17,268     $13,001
                                        4 vears of hiah school                                                              21,143      15,247
                                        I-3 years of college                                                                23,041      17,693
                                        4 years of college                                                                  29,233      21,800
                                        aThese figures include only earnings (not other income) for those aged 25-29 who worked full-time year-
                                        Source: US. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 162, Money Income of
                                        Households, Families, and Persons in the United States: 1987 (Washington, DC.: U.S. Government
                                        printing Office, 1989) table 36.

                                        Analysis of the overall returns to any of the tuition-guarantee programs
                                        would need (in addition to more complete cost figures) data on the pro-
                                        portions of students who complete high school, enter higher education,
                                        and earn degrees. An expensive program represents a sizable investment
                                        in an individual; as table 4.2 demonstrates, the payoff at the individual
                                        level from higher education is clear in the form of higher income.
                                        (Higher individual income has the general social benefits of higher taxes
                                        paid, lower reliance on social programs, and so forth.) Programs will,
                                        however, vary in their overall efficiency depending on how many of
                                        those involved complete the higher-education levels.

                                        “Sound forecasts of lifetime income require estimates or assumptions about how income will grow.
                                        Income growth is affected by several factors, including changes in the demand for jobs of various
                                        kinds, unemployment rates, and productivity growth. Though we did not attempt specific forecasts, it
                                        seems likely that under almost any combination of assumptions about the future, those with college
                                        educations would continue to have a large income advantage.

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Chapter 6                                                                                                                 ,

Summ~ and Conclusions

                       Our data allow us to describe the current set of programs that guarantee
                       higher education tuition, including barriers to their expansion or replica-
                       tion as well as key issues facing the programs, and to document the
                       results they have obtained to date. Taken together, the data suggest
                       early indications of promise, challenges still ahead, and enormous poten-
                       tial returns if the programs effectively move many disadvantaged young
                       people to and through higher education at their current costs.

                              survey data show that tuition-guarantee programs involved at
Current Programs       GAO’S
                       least 42,496 students in 1988-89, targeted on minorities and the disad-
                       vantaged.’ The total numbers are certainly larger, since not all programs
                       responded to our survey.2 Their emphases vary, with the largest group
                       of sponsorship programs offering not only full tuition but intensive and
                       broad-ranging support from an early grade, and others offering smaller
                       funds and fewer additional support services at later stages in students’
                       schooling. Sponsorship programs spend, on average, over $900 per stu-
                       dent per year and involve fewer students than the other types of pro-
                       grams. Pay-for-grades programs spend the least, $111 per student per
                       year, and appear to offer the fewest services along with their modest
                       incentives. Beyond the general assumption (based on sound research)
                       they all share, that student aspirations are more important than their
                       family social or economic background in determining their future, the
                       different program designs reflect contrasting assumptions about the
                       incentives and supports needed to change prevailing patterns of low
                       continuation by disadvantaged and minority youth from high school to
                       higher education.

                       Despite the sizable resources raised for the programs, survey respon-
Implementation         dents predict funding barriers for others. They also are disappointed in
Barriers and Success   their ability to gain cooperation from parents. It is not clear whether
Factors                either of these reports reflect barriers strong enough to significantly
                       threaten the current programs’ eventual results. The only frequently
                       cited success factor is the hiring of superb staff.

                       ‘This figure includes the 19,766 winners of any tuition reward, even $10 for one C, in the large
                       midwestern city pay-for-grades program.
                       “Eugene Lang told us ln 1989 that projects like his in New York included 1660 students, and those
                       outside New York City affiliated with the national I Have a Dream Foundation included between
                       7,000 and 8,000 students. By 1990, press accounts reported a figure of 9,000 in 31 cities. We had
                       survey responses from sponsorship programs of all kinds with a total of 3,617 students.

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                           Summary and Ckmclueiona

                           We observed programs offering students supportive services with
                           potential for significant effect, such as extensive extra academic help
                           given in small groups and with attractive incentives for performance.
                           The potential impact of such efforts is undoubted, based on research
                           showing the relationship of academic achievement to the time spent.

                           In addition to barriers they now identify, programs will encounter addi-
                           tional challenges. Many can be expected to face dilemmas of how to

                       l match the program resources to the students involved, either by selec-
                         tion or some other method;
                       . decide on the mix of skills needed in staff, including those who can help
                         insure that participating students get the skills needed to succeed in
                       . sort out roles and authority, especially with the schools and within the
                         complex new organizations being formed; and
                       . decide the balance between accepting or resisting the current school pro-
                         grams for the sponsored students.

                           Programs reported several kinds of success. Guaranteed-tuition payouts
Programs’ Results So       by sponsorship and university-based programs have not really begun. In
Far                        the other two types of programs, in the 1988-89 academic year, 2,884
                           students going on for further education with the aid of 12 programs
                           reporting to us received a total of $1,615,330 in tuition grants. To sup-
                           port the cumulative tuition-guarantees now in effect, 39 programs
                           reported having set aside a total of just under $22.7 million. The newer
                           programs do not yet face their greatest potential dropout problems, as
                           they are still dealing with students who must attend school; programs
                           generally report success in keeping student groups intact and involved
                           in the program (minimizing attrition). Individual programs cite students’
                           academic accomplishments that exceed those of comparison groups.

                           Incomplete data on programs’ expenses show that these vary widely,
                           but even the most expensive sponsorship efforts would over years of
                           school and higher education, at the level of an individual, cost an
                           amount that would be readily exceeded by the increase in income for
                           those completing high school and some years of college. Programs’
                           overall efficiency in getting large numbers of students to such higher
                           education levels is not yet known, but is a key evaluation question for
                           the future.

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                       Chapter i3
                       Summnry and Conclusions

                       Most programs say they are doing formal evaluation, but our review of
Evaluation Plans and   data now commonly kept suggests these facts will help answer only a
Data Collection        limited set of questions about what happened, and virtually none about
                       why. Few programs aspire to be models for others. This situation does
                       not augur well for evaluation, despite its potential value in helping sort
                       out what works in complex programs. Finding effective methods of
                       helping disadvantaged youth attain higher education is important
                       because better educational outcomes are a foundation for national eco-
                       nomic, cultural, and civic achievement. For individuals also, maintaining
                       a high and rising standard of living depends on maximizing earnings,
                       which is possible only through increased education.

                       Our key findings are (1) that programs that have not yet graduated stu-
Conclusions            dents report success in retention -that is, in keeping the groups intact
                       and in school; this is an important precondition to all other effects on
                       students and eventual outcomes; (2) individual programs report major
                       interventions that could have significant effects if continued, such as
                       hundreds of hours of additional teaching after school and year-round
                       close support from adult mentors; and (3) at least one individual pro-
                       gram reports considerable success in improving graduation rates and
                       attendance at college among a disadvantaged population, though the
                       precise nature of the program that yielded the results is unknown.

                       We identified three problem areas. First, programs report difficulty in
                       finding needed funds. Second, as presently designed, the pay-for-grades
                       type of program seems least likely to contribute to improved graduation
                       and higher education rates for disadvantaged students, in view of the
                       modest rewards available and the limited participation we observed.
                       Finally, the limited data-collection under way, as well as the assignment
                       of evaluation to internal staff who may have competing duties, will
                       make it difficult to eventually identify the programs’ outcomes and
                       what may have contributed most to them.

                       The tuition-guarantee programs form a dramatic demonstration,
                       involving major challenges still ahead but also important potential out-
                       comes that bear watching. If they are successful in solving operational
                       dilemmas and in designing effective programs that get disadvantaged
                       young people to and through college, one conclusion will have to be that
                       the cost of a program, assuming adequate support, is less important
                       than the timing of the intervention. The overall cost of the most expen-
                       sive program we estimate at about $11,000, which is not a great deal
                       more than the cost for a student who receives four years of federal Pell

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    Chapter 6
    Summary and Conclusions

    grants at the current maximum (a total of $9,200). The tuition-guar-
    antee programs, however, begin to use their resources as early as 6th
    grade, and in highly flexible ways, in order to lay the motivational foun-
    dation on which students’ choices of track and classes in high school will
    be based, which if done wisely then permits a student to consider the
    widest range of postsecondary options.

    Thus, if these demonstrations prove successful, policies aimed at
    causing significant changes in higher-education attendance by disadvan-
    taged students may need to focus spending in new ways, on new kinds
    of interventions that start much earlier. It would then remain to be seen
    whether specific elements that are probably key ingredients in pro-
    grams’ success, such as intensive additional academics or personal
    mentoring, can be generated on a broader scale. Even if the programs
    themselves are not doing much data-gathering and analysis as yet, the
    potential significance of the lessons they hold suggests the critical
    importance of assuring the close study of the outcomes in a few years.

    Page 65         GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
Appendix I

External Advisory Panel

               Michael A. Bailin
               Public/Private Ventures, Inc.
               Philadelphia, Pa. 19 106

               Floretta Dukes McKenzie
               The McKenzie Group
               Washington, D.C. 20004-l 109

               Mary Janney
               I Have a Dream Foundation
               Washington, D.C. 20006

               David Ramirez
               Aguirre International
               San Mateo, Calif. 94402

               Stephanie Robinson
               National Urban League, Inc.
               New York, N.Y. 10021

               Kenneth R. Rossano
               The Education Resources Institute
               Boston, Mass. 02116-5237

               Eugene C. Royster
               Cheyney University
               Cheyney, Pa. 19319

               Page 66       GAO/PEMD-99-M Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
Appendix II

Suggestionsfor Evaluation Data Collection
and Design

                      Useful data could be kept by tuition-guarantee programs to help in
                      assessing what works and why. Comparison of students in the program
                      with other similar students is a design feature essential in interpreting

                      Suggestions for evaluation are offered below, including useful data on
                      the students, the program, and outcomes, followed by discussion of the
                      comparison-group design issue.

                      One starting point for evaluation is to understand where a student stood
Data on Students      upon entering a program. School grades, attendance, and test results for
                      a year or more before enrollment in the tuition-guarantee program are
                      helpful here. If a program involves one or more school districts with
                      computerized records, any special student identification numbers should
                      be recorded to allow later retrieval of data from the official system. The
                      student’s own aspirations are a major focus of most programs; data on
                      these could be gathered from an initial interview, preferably before the
                      program’s own powerful rhetoric and ceremonies of induction take
                      effect. Question-wording from major national studies, such as the High
                      School and Beyond Survey by the National Center for Educational Sta-
                      tistics, could be used to allow comparison with a wider population. Data
                      from other people who know the student can show the context in which
                      the program will be working. Such information could include parents’
                      background (education and work) and their aspirations for the student,
                      as well as older sisters’ and brothers’ educational history; past teachers,
                      if interviewed quickly after a student is selected, could recall the stu-
                      dent’s prior work and outlook.

                      As students advance through school, an initial record can be kept up-to-
                      date with notes on schools attended and dates.

                      It is useful to identify major program elements, such as summer school,
Data on the Program   after-school tutoring, or having an adult mentor, and to keep track of
                      the degree to which individual students take part in each. Students
                      themselves could periodically fill out a checklist showing estimated
                      amounts of participation for the past several months, or well-informed
                      staff could do so. After years, it may be hard to recall what a program
                      component consisted of, so documentation of major segments can help,
                      such as keeping records on the curriculum of a summer session, or
                      having written expectations for volunteer mentors and a periodic note
                      on whether these are met.

                      Page 67       GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
                   Appendix J.I
                   Suggestions for Evaluation Data CMkction
                   and Design

                   To track another possible key to students’ progress, it could be helpful
                   to take a quarterly note on the nature and extent of each family’s partic-
                   ipation in events and any evidence of changes in their more general
                   involvement in a student’s development and changing outlook.

                   Programs aim to change disadvantaged students’ views, their school
Data on Outcomes   performance, their postsecondary education plans and attainments, and
                   their overall chances in life. Discovering whether any of these aims has
                   been realized forms a tall order for data collection. Routine school
                   records of grades and tests (school tests, standardized tests, and college
                   entrance tests), as well as attendance and discipline records, can suggest
                   the program’s academic impact and a student’s general commitment to
                   school. In view of the wide skepticism about such traditional measures,
                   we note that other kinds of evidence such as work samples and portfo-
                   lios, though complex to gather consistently on sizable groups, offer even
                   richer portraits of students’ growth in skills. Even brief surveys of stu-
                   dent goals, opinions, and plans, if done regularly and with consistent
                   questions, could provide useful traces of other program effects. In the
                   later high school years, progress in completing requirements and gradu-
                   ating should be tracked. Tracking dropouts will show whether they com-
                   plete school elsewhere or take the general equivalency examinations.
                   After students graduate, they can be surveyed annually by telephone or
                   postcard to keep track of their higher education history, the type of
                   schools attended and for how long, or jobs. The essential data concern
                   students’ achievements. Their attitudes and views, such as commonly
                   gathered information on students’ and parents’ satisfaction with a pro-
                   gram, are also important, but cannot substitute for outcome information.
                   It would be of interest as well to discover any impact of these programs
                   on other children in the family and on family dynamics, though each
                   added topic increases data-collection burdens.

                   Studies that do not put a program’s results in context by showing how
Comparison Group   they differ from what otherwise would be expected yield little conclu-
                   sive information. As one recent discussion of studies in higher education
                   put it, “you can’t fix by analysis what you bungled by design.“’ Compar-
                   ison of the students in a tuition-guarantee program with similar stu-
                   dents not involved offers a far more powerful conclusion that the
                   program caused the differences observed.

                   ‘Richard J. Light, et., By Design: Planning Research on Higher Education (Cambridge, Mass.:
                   Harvard University Press, 1990).

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    Appendix II
    Suggestions for Ehluation   Data tMkction
    end Des&u

    The large advantages of a comparison-group design argue for spending
    time to plan for that from the beginning of a program, or as near the
    beginning as possible. At least one program we saw had already planned
    a comparison group, composed of those who were nominated but not
    selected. Since many programs choose students in some way (at random,
    selecting one of several classrooms in a school, or selecting individuals
    from a pool based on criteria), it should be possible to select a similar
    classroom or a second set of individuals from the same setting and keep
    track of those students over the same years as the program is at work.
    From addresses in school records verified at one point in time, a pro-
    gram could continually update records on the comparison-group stu-
    dents (for example, by a postcard survey every 6 months) so that the
    group could be located for data-gathering as needed. An incentive can
    help keep such a group in touch, such as offering a small money pay-
    ment for each returned postcard.

    Collecting data on nonparticipants is hard but essential work. School
    records may be available for some. Self-reports may be the only data
    available on others, but these are better than nothing.

    Page 69           GAO/PEMD-90-16 Programs Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
Appendix III

Major Contributors to This Report

                     Frederick Mull hauser, Assistant Director
Program Evaluation   Phillip R. Herr,I. Social
                                        - - _..~Science
                                                _       Analvst
and Methodology      Francine E. Jefferson, Social Science Analyst
                     Terry J. Hanford, Advisor

New York Regional    Rosa L. Pagnillo, Evaluator
Office               Mary Sokoloski, Evaluator

(073644)             Page 70        GAO/PEW90-16   Programa Guaranteeing Student Aid for Higher Education
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