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Strategies for Increasing Affordability and Success for Low-Income Students

Comprehensive regional four-year public institutions enroll significant numbers of low-income students who face significant financial challenges to college enrollment and completion. This 2014 report looks at five tuition policies and six financial aid policies that regional public four-year universities can employ to increase affordability for low-income students. The report describes each strategy, provides examples, discusses the available evidence of success, weighs the potential advantages and disadvantages, and offers considerations for implementation.

The five tuition policies are:

  • Block, or flat-rate, tuition, which allows students to register for additional credit hours without incurring extra charges (as opposed to per-credit-hour charges);
  • added charges for excess credit accumulation;
  • flexible tuition payment plans;
  • guaranteed tuition, which ensures that tuition will not increase during four years of continuous enrollment; and
  • partial tuition rebates for on-time completion.

The six financial aid policies are:

  • tying aid to academic progress or timely course completion;
  • tying aid awards to participation in academic and other support services;
  • implementing an emergency aid program for unexpected financial concerns;
  • providing child care assistance or subsidies;
  • disbursing aid periodically during the term instead of all at once; and
  • providing assistance in gaining access to public income support programs for which students may be eligible.

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