Evaluation of Austin Community College’s Strengthening Institutions Program Grant: Annual Outcomes and Impact Report
Authors: Ashweeta Patnaik and Greg Cumpton
Date: August 2019
Publication Type: Report, 25pp.
This report summarizes early findings from the impact evaluation of Austin Community College’s (ACC) Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP), focusing on ACC’s financial aid text messaging intervention for first-time in college (FTIC) credential seeking students. Analyses were conducted using comprehensive student-level data made available from the institutional research data system at ACC. The impact analyses used a quasi-experimental approach with propensity score matching. Researchers found that the ACC SIP comprehensive texting intervention had a significant large positive impact on retention – text recipients were 13 percentage points more likely to persist into the fall of their sophomore year of college compared to freshmen at ACC who did not receive the texting intervention. Disaggregated results indicate that the findings were similar across program implementation years and across demographic characteristics. These findings contribute to a growing body of research that suggests that behaviorally-informed strategies, such as text messaging interventions, can help people navigate complex decisions, such as financial aid. Such interventions may particularly benefit community college students for whom the ability to continue in college likely depends on being able to maintain financial aid. A crucial next step will be to study the impacts of the texting intervention on college completion and credential attainment.