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Project Title:Student Success Tuition Discount ProgramInstitution Name:Indiana University Kokomo Innovation Category:Retention/Completion Project Director:Jack Tharp, Vice Chancellor of Student AffairsContact Information:(765)-455-9214, jtharp@iuk.eduWebsite:
Project Description:As a pilot initiative, the Student Success Tuition Discount program is an experiment. The “hypothesis” is that a financial incentive in the form of significant annual tuition discounts will influence students to complete a bachelor’s degree in four years. The review committee determined that since the proposed project is about cost savings for students, then there should be only one independent variable, the tuition discount.  The discounts will be administered as university grants-in-aid.
Objectives:

Little has been done in higher education to effectively change price and make it a genuine “lever” in influencing student behavior to graduate in four years.  Some institutions have pledged a guaranteed tuition rate for four years and others have repackaged the 4-year curriculum to be completed in three years time. These are changes around the margins and the numbers of students opting for these options suggest that students do not perceive a cost-benefit. Essentially, the objective is to complete 30 credit hours per year and graduate in four years with a BS/BA degree. 


Discount
: The discounts will be administered as university grants-in-aid. After completion of the first year, students will be entitled to a 20% discount, or a $1,300 grant, reducing tuition from $6,545 (est.) to $5,236 for the sophomore year.  The next year [junior year for the cohort], the discount will be increased another $723 to a total of 30 percent, saving students approximately $2,032 that year, and by their final year, the tuition discount is increased to approximately $2,804 or a 40% reduction for the senior year . Over the course of four years, students completing with the cohort will have reduced their tuition by $6,145, or 23 percent, effectively reducing four-year college costs to three years.

Outcomes:The initial pilot cohort sample of first time, full-time freshman students took place fall semester of 2011. When the bulk of IU Kokomo’s full-time beginners were admitted and registered, a random selection of 80 new students were identified. These students and their parents were sent a letter explaining the program, with a required general information session to follow. During this session, all program details were explained.  Forty students attended the information session and agreed to participate. It should be noted that since graduation rates are calculated on first-time, full-time, beginning students and not transfers, transfers are not in the sample population.  In the Student Success Tuition Initiative, students will be tracked to ensure they meet the 30 credit hour obligation. There is no penalty for students exiting the pilot group. 
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The campus faces two sets of challenges in enhancing degree attainment through this program. The first is the fact IU Kokomo is a commuter campus. This requires special attention and extra-curricular programming designed especially for the new students. The second challenge is the fact that students are often engaged in work and family obligations that deter them from full-time enrollment (30 credit hours per year), and thus to make adequate progress toward degree completion in four years. Although 80 students were invited to participate in the program, only 40 students signed up for the program. 
Evaluation Approach:Student progress will be monitored on a regular basis. Upon the conclusion of the pilot program’s first semester (January 2012), a comprehensive evaluation and analysis will be conducted.  The number of students retained in the program will be noted, and student demographics (SAT, GPA, age, major) will be analyzed. Short interviews will be conducted with the students who remain in the program as well as those who did not successfully complete the first semester. This analysis will provide insight as to the impact the tuition discount has had on student persistence. 
Potential for Replication:With the appropriate funding, any campus can replicate this program.
CEO-to-CEO Contact:Susan Sciame-Glesecke , Interim Chancellorsgieseck@iuk.edu
(765) 455-9221
Date Published: Monday, January 9, 2012Date Revised: Thursday, April 12, 2012