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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Going "All In": A Multiple Case Study Analysis of How Small, Private Institutions Attempted to Enhance Their Strategic Positions by Offering Loan Repayment Assistance Programs to All Incoming Freshmen
by Kline, Thomas A., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2017, 289; 10288384
Abstract (Summary)

Today, many small, private colleges and universities are facing significant financial challenges, and there have been growing concerns among many in the field about the sustainability of these institutions. The causes of these financial challenges are complex, including increased competition for students, changing student demographics, stagnant wages among families, and rising institutional costs. In response, many institutions are employing a strategy known as loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs). LRAPs were first made available to the broader sector of higher education in 2008 and remain relatively unstudied. To date, more than 100 institutions have used these programs in some form. This study focuses on institutions that have offered LRAPs to all incoming students, an approach known colloquially as going “all in.” Through a multiple case study analysis of Adrian College, Corban University, and Houghton College, this study seeks to answer the question: How have small, private institutions enhanced their strategic positions by going “all in” with LRAPs? The study employs Porter’s (1996) framework for strategy, which focuses on differentiation, namely through implementing a strategy in unique ways that are connected to the operations of the organization. The study also examines the contextual factors that led each institution to go “all in,” the challenges each institution experienced in implementing the program, and the outcomes realized. Additionally, the study outlines the history and evolution of LRAPs, the major players involved, and the details of the LRAPs. The study revealed that each institution approached implementing the strategy in different ways, some of which worked better than others. Strong presidential leadership proved to be a key factor in maximizing the program’s effectiveness by conveying trust to the public and ensuring the college’s activities and operations were congruous. Although many challenges arose during the program’s implementation, the most significant challenges were overcoming the public’s perception that the LRAP was a gimmick, conveying the terms and conditions of the program, and financing the program after the second year. Finally, the outcomes thus far seem generally positive: enrollment and retention rates increased; two institutions attracted significant publicity; and each institution established a new strategic position in the market.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Finney, Joni
Commitee: Armacost, Mary-Linda, Kaplan, Eric
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education finance, Higher Education Administration, Higher education
Keywords: Higher education strategy, LRAP, Loan repayment assistance programs, Porter, Small private colleges and universities, Strategic positioning, Student loan debt
Publication Number: 10288384
ISBN: 978-0-355-21885-5
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