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How Low Income Undergraduates Financed Postsecondary Education:1992-93


Persistence and Attainment Among Low Income Students

A frequent concern is that low income students may be forced to drop out or interrupt their education for financial reasons. In fact, among undergraduates enrolling in postsecondary education for the first time in 1989-90 who were seeking a degree or certificate, low income students were more likely than other students to have not attained and not be enrolled in 1994 (44 percent compared with 36 percent) (table 17). Limiting consideration to students seeking a bachelor s degree, the relationship was the same (although bachelor s degree seekers overall were less likely to be no longer enrolled): 30 percent of low income students had not completed their degree and were no longer enrolled, compared with 24 percent of other students (table 18).


Table 17 Percentage distribution of 1989-90 first-time beginners seeking any degree according to enrollment status in 1994, by income group in 1989-90

                    Completed                  No longer
                    any degree  Still enrolled enrolled
______________________________________________________
  Total                 49.7        12.9       37.5
                          
Income group
 Low income             46.6         9.9       43.5
  Not low income        50.6        13.6       35.9

NOTE: Percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study Second Follow-up (BPS:90/94), Data Analysis System.



Table 18 Percentage distribution of 1989-90 first-time beginners seeking a bachelor's degree according to enrollment status in 1994, by income group in 1989-90

                          Completed
                      bachelor's degree     Still enrolled                        
                   _______________________ _______________ __________________
                      No    With            No     With     No      Changed
                    inter- inter-   Path   inter-  inter-  longer   degree
                   ruption ruption unknown ruption ruption enrolled objective
__________________________________________________________________________
  Total               37.8    5.9     0.9   13.8    7.4    24.7     9.6
                 
Income group
 Low income           28.0    4.5     1.8   15.2    8.1    29.8    12.5
  Not low income      39.3    6.1     0.8   13.6    7.3    23.7     9.3

NOTE: Percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study Second Follow-up (BPS:90/94), Data Analysis System.


If low income students were more likely than other students to have to interrupt their studies for financial reasons, this should be most evident among students seeking bachelor s degrees, because they take longer to complete. However, both groups were about equally likely to have interrupted their enrollment and returned whether they completed their studies or were still enrolled in 1994.


Persistence is affected by a variety of factors other than income. This study s approach of controlling for group differences by crosstabulation has limitations with survey data: sample size limits the number of cells into which the data can be usefully subdivided, and there are complex interrelationships among variables that cannot be disentangled in tabular analyses.


To overcome these limitations, linear models are frequently used to examine several sets of variables simultaneously. One such model, linear regression, is used here to estimate these effects (adjusted means). The regression model takes into account the effect of all variables in the model simultaneously and thus controls for interrelationships among variables that can influence tabular findings. By estimating the joint effect of all variables taken together, regression models can be used to test individual parameters while holding constant the influence of other variables.


Of particular interest here is whether the pattern of greater likelihood of leaving without completing or reenrolling found among low income students is related to their low income status, or whether it is related to other characteristics associated with persistence that are more common among low income students. Table 19 shows the adjusted percentages of 1989-90 beginning postsecondary students seeking degrees who completed any degree by 1994 or were still enrolled, taking into account other student characteristics. The unadjusted means are included for comparison.


Low income was not a significant predictor of attaining any degree or being still enrolled in postsecondary education when other variables in the model were taken into consideration. Characteristics associated with a higher likelihood of attaining any degree or being still enrolled included being female, having parents with a bachelor s degree or higher (compared with high school or less), receiving parental contributions, and having taken out a loan in at least one year. Characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of attaining any degree or being still enrolled were being black, non-Hispanic (compared with white, non-Hispanic), enrolling part time to start, and borrowing from parents.


Table 19 Percentage of 1989-90 beginning postsecondary students who had either attained a degree or who were still enrolled as of spring 1994, and the adjusted percentage after taking into account the covariation of the variables listed in the table1

                           Unadjusted  Adjusted  WLS     Standard
                             percent-  percent- coeffi-
                               age2    age3     cient4   error5
__________________________________________________________________________
   Total                       64.0    64.0     0.510                      
Gender
 Female                        65.6    66.0*    0.042  0.017
 Male                          62.2    61.8                 
Race ethnicity
 American Indian/
  Alaskan Native                 -     74.7     0.109  0.089
 Asian/Pacific Islander        74.1    71.6     0.078  0.044
 Black, non-Hispanic           57.3    56.4*   -0.073  0.036
 Hispanic                      64.3    71.0     0.072  0.042
 White, non-Hispanic           64.2    63.7                 
Dependency status               
 Independent                   47.9    62.2    -0.025  0.040
 Dependent                     69.6    64.7                 
Institution type
 Private, not-for-profit
   Less-than-2-year            79.9    87.6     0.210  0.120
   2- to 3-year                60.3    56.6    -0.100  0.059
   4-year                      79.4    68.0     0.014  0.030
 Private, for-profit 
   Less-than-2-year            68.8    72.7     0.061  0.048
   2- to 3-year                56.4    57.6    -0.090  0.050
   4-year                              81.9     0.153  0.616
 Public 
   Less-than-2-year            56.4    67.5     0.009  0.073
   2- to 3-year                53.4    60.5    -0.061  0.034
   4-year                      73.3    66.6                 
Attendance status 1989 90
 Part-time                     44.0    55.3*   -0.115  0.033
 Full-time                     70.7    66.8                 
Income group
  Low income                   58.2    61.9    -0.026  0.024
  Not low income               65.7    64.5                 
Number of dependents in 1989 90
 Dependents                    48.1    65.5     0.017  0.040
 No dependents                 66.8    63.8                 
 
Delayed entry after high school               
 Delayed                       47.3    62.3    -0.024  0.028
 No delay                      72.0    64.7                 
Parent's education
 Some college, less than 
  bachelor's degree            65.3    63.2     0.038  0.021
 Bachelor's degree             73.5    69.1*    0.097  0.021
 Advanced degree               79.3    73.3*    0.139  0.026
 High school or less           56.9    59.4     
 

Table 19 Percentage of 1989-90 beginning postsecondary students who had either attained a degree or who were still enrolled as of spring 1994, and the adjusted percentage after taking into account the covariation of the variables listed in the table1 Continued

                           Unadjusted  Adjusted  WLS    Standard
                             percent-  percent- coeffi-
                               age2    age3     cient4  error5
__________________________________________________________________________
Financial contribution from parents in 1989-94
 Received parent contributions 72.4    68.7*    0.146  0.028
 No parent contributions       46.9    54.1                 
Loan from parents in 1989-94               
 Received loan from parents    69.4    60.3*   -0.049  0.021
 No loan from parents          66.2    65.2                 
Average hours worked/week while enrolled 1989-90
 1-14 hours/week               78.6    69.1     0.049  0.028
 15-24 hours/week              69.6    64.7     0.004  0.023
 25 or more hours/week         58.1    62.7    -0.016  0.022
 No work while enrolled        65.9    64.2                 
Student education loan 1989 94               
 Received education loan       76.0    72.7*    0.128  0.020
 Did not receive education 
   loan                        58.2    59.9

- Sample size was too small for a reliable estimate.

p <= .05, comparing to the reference group, indicated by .

| Not available for reference group.

1 The last group in each category is the reference group for comparison.
2 Estimates from BPS:90/94 Data Analysis System.
3 Percentages adjusted for differences associated with other variables in the table (see appendix B for details).
4 Weighted least squares (WLS) coefficient (see appendix B for details).
5 Standard error of WLS coefficient, adjusted for design effect (see appendix B for details).

NOTE: Total includes students with missing data on characteristics shown in the detail. Therefore, the percentage for all students may be higher or lower than any of the percentages shown in the detail.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study Second Follow-up (BPS:90/94), Data Analysis System.



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