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Three Essays on the Pittsburgh Promise

Lowry, Danielle (2022) Three Essays on the Pittsburgh Promise. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Promise programs are place-based programs that discount the price of postsecondary education with the goal of increasing degree attainment. I contribute to the growing literature on the effectiveness of promise programs in this dissertation. In my first paper, I evaluate the impact of the Pittsburgh Promise Extension Scholarship on college-going outcomes. The Extension Scholarship is a component of the Pittsburgh Promise’s Core Scholarship that is available to students that do not meet the Core GPA minimum of 2.5. The Extension Scholarship is a generous award that is available at the local community college. I use regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences designs to assess the program’s impact. I find that the scholarship has no impact on student enrollment outcomes at the margin of eligibility, but does produce modest increases in associate’s degree attainment. Higher along the GPA range, students are more likely to substitute out of four-year institutions and into two-year institutions. This leads to a reduction in degree attainment.
Next, I examine the possibility of award displacement within the context of the Pitts-burgh Promise. Award displacement occurs when one type of financial aid award directly con-tributes to the change in quantity of another award. I explore whether postsecondary institutions displaced awards in response to the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship by capitalizing on the doubling of the maximum Promise amount in 2012. I assess differences in costs and awards be-tween Promise students and their peers, on average, and examine whether and in what ways these differences changed after the increase in Promise funding. I do not find evidence that in-situations are responding to the Promise increase through aid reductions.
The final study is part of an ongoing research-practice partnership with the Pittsburgh Promise. In response to decreasing Promise usage trends, the Pittsburgh Promise launched a college coaching pilot program in three high schools. The program was implemented during the 2020-2021 academic year when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted schools to move to online instruction. Using interviews with program staff, I analyze the relationship-building between Promise coaches and guidance counselors. I offer recommendations to consider from the literature on school-community partnerships that may strengthen collaboration.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lowry, Danielledanielle.lowry@pitt.edudjl73
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPage,
Committee MemberIriti,
Committee MemberJones,
Committee MemberShafiq,
Date: 10 January 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 11 November 2021
Approval Date: 10 January 2022
Submission Date: 17 December 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 194
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: postsecondary; award displacement; community college; promise programs; financial aid; regression discontinuity
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2022 18:18
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2022 18:18


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