Twenty-one percent of grant-eligible applicants who did not use the District of Columbia's tuition assistance grant (TAG) funding to attend a participating college or university may have encountered such barriers as college entrance requirements and the absence of minority outreach programs. Whether enrollment caps at colleges posed a barrier for applicants is unclear. In the program's first year, 516 of the nearly 2,500 eligible applicants did not use the grants. About 21 percent of the institutions in which applicants expressed interest restrict the number of out-of-state students that they will accept, although the extent to which this played a role in limiting access to these institutions is unclear. Enrollment at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) changed little during the TAG program's first year. The TAG program and UDC appeared to serve different freshmen populations, which may account for the TAG program's minimal impact on UDC enrollment. Although concerns about TAG program administration were largely resolved with the revision of program regulations in December 2000, other administrative issues may hinder program operations, including the determination of applicant eligibility and the distribution of information on institutions participating in the program.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Executive Office of the Mayor||1. The mayor of D.C. should direct the TAG Program office to change the current applicant eligibility determination process to ensure that (1) all applicants receive a full review to determine their eligibility to receive the grant, (2) eligible applicants who indicate interest only in ineligible institutions are made aware in their award letters that the institutions listed on their applications are ineligible and that an eligible school must be selected for the applicants to receive the tuition assistance grant, and (3) all letters sent to eligible applicants indicate which institutions have already formally agreed to participate in the grant program.|
|Executive Office of the Mayor||2. The mayor of D.C. should direct the TAG Program office to indicate clearly in the pamphlet promoting the TAG Program which eligible postsecondary institutions have already formally agreed to participate in the grant program.|