Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Second Advisor

Dr. Sara Kacin

Third Advisor

Dr. Annmarie Caño


The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to examine the role of a debt mitigation program as an incentive for adult student reengagement and to ascertain students’ perceptions of the institution after reenrolling in college via the program. The debt mitigation program was the first in the nation to forgive past-due student institutional debt, allowing students to return to the classroom (Pavlik, 2021). More overt student connection supports were designed to engage adult returners in addition to the debt forgiveness component (Itzkowitz, 2018). By dismissing student debt, designing outreach, and creating specific supports, the program was designed to demonstrate institutional commitment to returning adult students (Van Lier, 2020). The study was conducted at one urban university, and a mixed-methods design was utilized. The qualitative portion included in-depth video interviews with 10 students who participated in the program to garner individual experiences and stories. The quantitative research included a t-test analysis of the semester GPAs of participants compared to a group of non-participants. Levene’s test for equality was assigned to eliminate variances (Pallant, 2020). In addition, a paired t-test analysis of each participant’s term GPA to the previous term GPA was completed. The findings from this study illustrated that varying reasons and enticements can motivate students to return to college, but no matter the external factors, students at all levels need support, understanding, and institutional flexibility to be successful. An evaluation of adult student reengagement programs is needed to determine the benefits and value of strategies for possible replication.


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