Publications and Working Papers
Following in Their Footsteps or Avoiding Their Mistakes? The Role of Older Siblings in Shaping College Decision Making
Working paper, draft available upon request.
Inequality in access to resources when making consequential education and employment decisions contributes to economic stratification in educational attainment. Students rely on their social networks when making decisions about their postsecondary education, a decision that has profound impacts on future economic, demographic, and social outcomes. Given stratification in individual networks, their influence may play a role in growing educational and socioeconomic economic inequality. Using longitudinal qualitative interviews with 36 high-achieving high school seniors from families with low incomes, I explore the unique role that older siblings play in shaping the postsecondary decision making of their younger siblings: what makes older sibling support meaningful? What might explain heterogeneity in the effect that siblings have on their younger siblings’ pathways? The support provided by siblings is distinct based on three primary characteristics: the intensity of the relationship, and the internal and external relevance, or the fact the information shared is recent and personalized to the students’ circumstances. I also explore heterogeneity in the relationship between siblings and student postsecondary outcomes.
The Effects of Federal Financial Aid Policy (with Fabian Pfeffer)
The Higher Education Act (HEA) is the central federal legislation regulating the financing of higher education and student financial aid. The HEA reauthorization of 1992 introduced pronounced shifts in student financial aid. We take advantage of this policy change to identify the heterogeneous impact of federal financial aid on not just the short-term college outcomes of students, such as college access and graduation, but also on longer-term and broader outcomes, including their later economic well-being and demographic transitions.
Ongoing Data Collection
Postsecondary Decision Making Study (with Stefanie DeLuca)
There are well-documented and growing gaps in college attendance and completion rates by income. Students from families with low-incomes are less likely to go to college and often attend less selective institutions than their qualifications would allow, diminishing their educational attainment and long-term earnings, while increasing debt. As a policy response, colleges and universities have tried to increase economic diversity, and several interventions have been promising. We implemented a large-scale, longitudinal qualitative study within a randomized, controlled trial (the HAIL Scholarship Study) to understand student decision making, and to explain the mechanisms that make the HAIL Scholarship intervention so successful.
Funded by: Russell Sage Foundation (PIs: Elizabeth Burland and Stefanie DeLuca), Smith Richardson Foundation (PIs: Stefanie DeLuca and Susan Dynarski), University of Michigan Poverty Solutions, the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University
Early First-Dollar Categorical Need-Based Aid: A New Model for Making College Affordable? (with Kevin Stange, Katherine Michelmore, Megan Tompkins-Stange, Jasmina Camo-Biogradlija, and Marissa Thompson)
This mixed-methods evaluation will investigate how the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP), a large first-dollar aid program in Michigan, impacts postsecondary outcomes for high school students from families with low-incomes.
Funded by: the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)
Categorizing and Understanding Facilities and Long-term (Capital) Investments (with Jinhai Yu)
The school districts throughout Connecticut were allocated significant ARP-ESSER funds to spend on longer-term (capital) investments, including HVAC upgrades, purchasing of new technology, etc. This project is tasked with understanding the ways in which districts spent the allocations on long-term facilities and other physical investments and the impacts on student outcomes. This study will use a mixed methods approach. The quantitative analysis includes coding capital investments under ARP-ESSER plans, descriptive data analysis of the ARPESSER capital investments, and analysis of the impact of the ARP-ESSER capital investments on student academic and behavioral outcomes. In addition to analysis of the quantitative data, the research team will conduct interviews with key district decision-makers in a subsample of districts to understand how these ARP-ESSER funds were allocated, what they perceive to be the impact of the funding on student outcomes, and the role of COVID-19 and other factors in shaping spending priorities. This project will result in a policy report for the Connecticut COVID-19 Education Research Collaborative as well as at least one academic publication.
Funded by: the Center for Connecticut Education Research Collaboration
Other Works in Progress
Postsecondary Choices and Perceived Risk: Leveraging a Financial Aid Experiment to Understand the College Decisions Students from Families with Low-Incomes (with Stefanie DeLuca)
Experimental Evidence on the Effects of College Quality on Educational Attainment (with Sue Dynarski, Katie Leu, CJ Libassi, Kathy Michelmore, Stephanie Owen, and Mary Quiroga)