Lottery funded scholarships in Tennessee: Increased access but weak retention for minority students

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Student retention and low graduation rates are the most significant problems associated with state provided student aid. Evidence suggests that the problems are chronic to certain populations in state colleges and universities. This research examines lottery scholarship data to determine those factors that affect scholarship retention and graduation. Specifically, the fall 2007 lottery scholarship and financial aid data from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission indicate that low income African Americans and students who score low on the ACT are most likely to lose their scholarship at every undergraduate level. In addition, the data shows that high school GPA, undergraduate GPA, gender, Pell grant eligibility, adjusted gross family income, and student major are positively correlated with scholarship retention. These findings strongly suggest that while lottery funded scholarships promote access to higher education, they are insufficient for academic success for certain populations. Thus, if state and higher education institutions want to maintain higher levels of retention and a diverse student body, they should do much more than simply provide lottery scholarship funding. On the contrary, they should provide institutional support by creating mechanism that will positively affect student achievement. This includes establishing support groups, specialized learning communities, and innovative faculty/student relationships that accentuate the learning experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-17
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Education Finance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Finance
  • Public Administration


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