The Effects of Financial Aid on College Successof Two-Year Beginning NontraditionalStudentsJin Chen1•Don Hossler2Received: 20 September 2014 / Published online: 8 April 2016ÓSpringer Science+Business Media New York 2016AbstractThis study aims to understand the role of financial aid in college success oftwo-year beginning nontraditional students. By applying discrete time event history modelswith propensity score covariate adjustment to a nationally representative sample from BPS:04/09, this study answers research questions centering around the effects of Pell Grants,subsidized student loans and unsubsidized student loans on six-year college outcomes ofnontraditional students (i.e. degree attainment, system departure, and continuous enroll-ment without a degree). The results of this study suggest that these nontraditional studentswere most likely to drop out in the third college year and that all three types of financial aidappeared effective for reducing dropout risks, but not for encouraging timely degreecompletion. These findings have significant implications for policy and practice includingthe necessity for considering the complexity of nontraditional student pathways, back-grounds and unique needs when designing and implementing financial aid policy. Thefindings also contribute to discussions on ways to fund nontraditional students and providerecommendations for institutions serving large populations of nontraditional students topromote persistence to graduation.KeywordsNontraditional students±Two-year institutions±College success±Eventhistory analysis±Propensity score approachA preliminary version of this manuscript was presented at the annual forum of the Association for Insti-tutional Research, Long Beach, May 18–22, 2013.&Jin Chen[email protected]1Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, Indiana University Bloomington,Bloomington, IN 47408, USA2School of Education, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN, USA123Res High Educ (2017) 58:40–76DOI 10.1007/s11162-016-9416-0
IntroductionSince the 1970s, nontraditional undergraduates increasingly outnumber their traditionalcounterparts who enroll in college full-time immediately after high school (Horn andCarroll1996; Choy2002; Knapp et al.2009). More than 70 % of today’s college studentshave one or more characteristics that would label them as nontraditional, namely, delayedcollege enrollment, part-time attendance, financial independence, full-time employment,having dependents other than a spouse, single parent status, or lack of high school diploma(Choy2002; Horn and Carroll1996; Snyder and Dillow2011). Concentrated primarilywithin the two-year sector (Horn and Carroll1996; Choy2002; Snyder and Dillow2011),nontraditional students show considerably low rates of persistence and fall short ofattaining postsecondary credentials (Paulsen and Boeke2006).