Family Education Versus Family Finances in Predicting College Outcomes

Janet K. Holt & Drew M. Anderson

American Educational Research Association, April 27-May 1, 2017 San Antonio, TX.

Janet Holt presented in a roundtable session (session 44.084-6, RT18) on First-Generation Students at the AERA annual meeting Saturday at 2:45. She presented Family Education Versus Family Finances in Predicting College Outcomes, a study jointly conducted with Drew Anderson from University of Wisconsin.

This study explored the college outcomes of first generation college students in a longitudinal study of a large statewide cohort of college students. This study parsed out the effects of first-generation status, poverty and personal and institutional factors on college outcomes.

First-generation status had a separate effect from poverty on all college outcomes except community college retention. First-generation status had a larger effect than poverty on first-year college retention, even when controlling for student characteristics, college readiness and other factors. However, first-generation status was not predictive of college completion in four-years, controlling for poverty, student characteristics, college readiness and institutional characteristics. The results suggest that (a) initiatives to foster higher college enrollment among first-generation students may ultimately lead to college completion, (b) the effects of poverty appear to be more entrenched and longer lasting than the effects of being a first-generation student, and (c) both poverty and first-generation status should be taken into account in initiatives fostering college enrollment, retention, and completion.