In this study I deployed quasi-experimental methods to explore enrollment responses to a unique statewide college promise program for adult students attending college within the two-year public postsecondary education sector in Tennessee. State policymakers implemented Tennessee Reconnect in 2018 to encourage adult students without a college degree to enroll in college and pursue a postsecondary credential or degree. There is little research quantitatively exploring how promise programs affect adult student enrollment in contrast with nationwide trends. For this study, I employ differences-in-differences to determine the effect of Tennessee Reconnect on total, part-time, full-time, male, and female adult student enrollment at public two-year postsecondary institutions in the first two years of the program. Findings revealed a significant increase in enrollment in response to the policy across all adult student categories in the first year. While overall adult student enrollment increased in the second year of the program, only part-time students and male students saw significant increases compared to the nationwide sample. Findings are encouraging regarding adult student responses to a free college program and how states can leverage policy to increase enrollment among individuals who may not have otherwise pursued postsecondary education, such as adult students.
Collom, G. D. (2021). A Quasi-Experimental Investigation of Adult Student Enrollment Responses to the Tennessee Reconnect Grant. Postsecondary Education Research Center (PERC).