Degrees with Less Debt: Effective Higher Education Strategies for Underrrpresented Student Populations

Janet K. Holt

St. Louis Graduates’ Professional Development Institute, February 17, 2017, St. Louis, MO.

This presentation, made at the Professional Development Institute of St. Louis Graduates on February 17, 2017 describes an IERC study, led by Executive Director Janet Holt and commissioned by St. Louis Graduates, a collaborative network whose mission is to increase degree completion for low-income students, first-generation students, and students of color from St. Louis. This presentation complements the report, Degrees with Less Debt: Effective Higher Education Strategies for Underrepresented Student Populations which addresses two key questions: 1) which institutions are doing the best in supporting low-income, first-generation students and students of color through college completion with low debt? and 2) what strategies are these institutions using to facilitate these results?

Starting with a list of 20 four-year institutions in Missouri and Illinois where St. Louis students most often attend college, we began the process of deciding which institutions were best supporting this population of interest. From this study, a group of five institutions rose to the top. In the second phase of this project, we interviewed administrators in the areas of academic and student affairs, enrollment management, and financial aid as well as a group of students, from each of these five institutions to find the key ingredients of their “secret sauce”.


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