College Dreams Dissolved: An Examination of Factors Tied to “Summer Melt” in Iowa

(2021) College Dreams Dissolved: An Examination of Factors Tied to “Summer Melt” in Iowa. College Student Aid Commission


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While the need for workers who have at least an associate’s degree is rising in Iowa, the proportion of new high school graduates who enroll in college is falling. One barrier to college enrollment is “summer melt,” a term that refers to high school students who plan to enroll in college but fail to do so immediately after high school. This research brief examines both the number of Iowa students who “melt” and the school and student characteristics associated with “summer melt.” We find that roughly 1 in 5 high school seniors in Iowa who indicate that they plan to enroll in college do not in fact enroll in the fall after high school. We also find that the characteristics among college-intending students most strongly correlated with actual college enrollment are taking the ACT or SAT and filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. We therefore recommend that Iowa focus on supporting college-intending students through these two crucial steps by surveying high school students’ college intentions earlier than is currently done, as well as considering mandatory FAFSA for all high school students. Another possible policy to help raise college enrollment levels would be mandatory ACT/SAT for all high school students, although the number of colleges that require these tests is declining.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: college, college enrollment, FAFSA, ACT, SAT, postsecondary, financial aid, "summer melt"
Subjects: Education > Educational finance > Federal education grants
Education > Educational finance > Student financial aid
Education > Educational policies
Education > Higher education
Education > Higher education > Community and technical colleges
Education > Higher education > Private four-year colleges and universities
Education > Higher education > Public four-year colleges and universities
ID Code: 35085
Deposited By: Elizabeth Keest Sedrel
Deposited On: 14 Jan 2021 14:34
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2021 14:34