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Giving Compass' Take:
• The Atlantic reports that a mailer sent to low-income students about the possibility of tuition-free college led to a major jump in enrollment at the University of Michigan.
• This is one example of how to tackle “undermatching,” when high-achieving students don’t attend the most selective college they could get into. How might the approach be scaled?
Highly selective colleges have long struggled with racial and economic diversity. At 38 such institutions in the United States, more students come from households in the top 1 percent than from those in the bottom 60 percent. That is in part due to who applies to the universities: Many high-achieving students from a low-income or minority background don’t think they can get in to a prestigious institution, let alone pay for it — despite the fact that many such colleges have generous financial-aid packages — so they end up not applying.
A new study, however, found that a few extra dollars on a university’s part might go a long way in terms of changing that calculus for low-income students. The working paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, examined the effects of a targeted-outreach campaign for low-income students at the University of Michigan.
The campaign, known as the High Achieving Involved Leader (hail) Scholarship, encourages highly qualified, low-income students to apply to the university, promising them four years of education free of tuition and fees. Students are sent a personalized mailing with all of the information, which costs the university less than $10 each to produce and send out; the students’ parents and school principals are also contacted separately.
Read the full article about the life-changing effects of tuition-free college by Adam Harris at The Atlantic.