Newswise — BEREA, OH—In a novel approach to keeping low-income students academically on track, Baldwin Wallace University is offering six hours of free, 2017 summer school tuition to qualifying, full-time undergraduate students already enrolled at BW. The goal of the pilot program is to make it easier for BW’s Pell-eligible students to graduate on time.
Focused on Outcomes
“For many reasons, students with higher financial need are at higher risk of falling behind in their coursework and it can be a slippery slope,” said BW Provost Stephen Stahl. “As we continue to address the issues that can affect student success, we are testing this needs-based, summer tuition awards program as another strategy that might increase our retention and timely graduation rates.”
BW recently sent notices of the summer school awards to 771 eligible, full-time (day and evening) students, based on 2016-17 financial aid filings. More than 60 have already expressed interest in the program.
Strategies for Student Success
A 2016 study published in Research in Higher Education confirmed that economically-disadvantaged students are more likely to attempt and complete fewer credit hours per semester, resulting in a decreased degree completion rates.
“The research also notes, however, that taking courses in summer school is an effective strategy to compensate for lighter fall and spring course loads,” said Stahl. “We are eager to look at our data moving forward to measure the impact of this free, summer school pilot for our students and to explore the possibility of similar programs in the future to encourage persistence.”
The research also recommends “bridge programs” prior to freshman enrollment, a strategy already employed at BW. In fact, the Jacket Link Bridge program is is one of a variety of student success initiatives that promote timely graduation and, by extension, college affordability. BW’s Four-Graduation Guarantee pays tuition for the extra time it takes participating students to finish.
Pilot Program Parameters
The 2017 summer tuition waiver does not cover books or course fees and may not be applied to independent study, internship, or other individualized instruction. The offer of tuition-free courses is only available for Summer 2017 and expires at the end of the term.