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IES Contract

Title: A User-Contextualized ROI Tool to Make Meaning of Lifetime Costs and Tradeoffs Associated with Different Degree Programs
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Carpenter, Jeffrey Awardee: Vantage Point Consulting
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 8 months (6/26/2019 – 2/25/2020) Award Amount: $199,986.50
Type: Phase I Development Award Number: 91990019C0020

In this project, the team will develop a prototype of a user-contextualized, return on investment (ROI) tool that prospective students will use to make meaning of lifetime costs and opportunity tradeoffs associated with different degree programs offered by postsecondary institutions. The ROI tool will incorporate information on students' academic, professional, and personal characteristics, and future aspirations.  The prototype will include an interface to present information to guide decision making based on an ROI calculation based on an econometric function that discounts earning cash-flows under current and future state career and education assumptions, while subtracting college net price cost information. In the first phase of work, the project will use information from data partners including Burning Glass Technologies and from public sources at the Department of Labor and Department of Education.

At the end of Phase I, through a pilot study of in three high schools with a diverse mix of racially and socio-economically-diverse end users, the researchers will examine the feasibility and usability of the prototype when used by students. The team will also collect user-experience feedback on whether the prototype helped students consider different pathways, changed perceptions about the cost or benefit of higher education, and provided new information in novel ways.  The research team will also collect data on whether the prototype tool is reliable (that is, are similar students receiving similar outputs) and valid (that is, does the tool provide an accurate calculation of students' expected ROI).