THE IMPACT OF FINANCIAL AID ON STUDENT COLLEGE ACCESS AND SUCCESS: THE SAN ANTONIO EXPERIENCE
AUTHORS: Eyra A. Perez and Noé C. Ortiz
In San Antonio, Texas, community leaders have long believed that economic prosperity is directly linked to the level of educational attainment of its citizens. For many years, San Antonio has benefitted from pockets of excellent efforts and widespread collaboration in education. Even with this history of well-intentioned educational initiatives, there was no empirical evidence that showed the impact of these initiatives on higher educational attainment for its citizens. The American Community Survey (2011) reveals that 32 percent of all adults in San Antonio (25 years and older) have an associate’s degree or higher compared with 12 percent of Latino adults. In a community with 72 percent of the population identified as Latino, this is of grave concern. The critical nature of this persistent low attainment has also created the opportunity to implement more comprehensive strategic efforts aimed at increasing college completion for Latinos in San Antonio.
We now recognize that Latino student success requires a collective effort, delivered from within widely adopted practices, rigorously measured against where we started, and continually adapted to expand impact. As the largest majority Hispanic city in the United States, San Antonio’s current demographics portray those of the nation in the near future. Therefore the efforts in San Antonio to increase college completion can guide strategies and efforts in other cities.
Although completion gaps cannot be closed with financial aid alone, research shows that aid can and does increase enrollment, persistence, and completion (The Institute for College Access and Success, 2013). We present this case study of San Antonio’s place-based collective impact journey in financial aid, knowing that its findings and learnings can be valuable contributions to the national dialogue on reimagining financial aid design and delivery.