Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation in Practice

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Higher Education

First Advisor

Cecilia M. Orphan

Second Advisor

Laura Sponsler

Third Advisor

Christopher Nicholson


Adult learner, Cost, Employer tuition funding, Persistence, Post-traditional learner, Retention


As the looming enrollment cliff approaches and more adult learners return to higher education, understanding the factors that affect their persistence and retention is vital for higher education institutions. Previous studies have shown that external factors influence post-traditional learners’ pursuit of higher education. This program evaluation aimed to acquire knowledge of up-front employer tuition funding and its effects on adult learners' persistence, retention, and time to degree completion. Through a quantitative approach, this program evaluation examines the differences between students receiving up-front employer tuition funding and those who do not. The results indicated that students who received employer funding retained at higher rates than those who did not across all programs except graduate certificates. The length of time and cost of the degree affect how influential employer tuition funding is for the adult learner. The results also indicated that employer tuition funding affects completion time while influencing a student’s decision to return to higher education. Recommendations for consideration include locking tuition rates for those who remain active with continuous enrollment, reviewing transfer policies for undergraduate students to increase the courses allowed to be used for transfer credits, awarding Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credit for college-level level knowledge and competencies at both the undergraduate and graduate-levels, increasing scholarship opportunities for Master-level students, creating articulation agreements with statewide community colleges, and reengage students who have stopped out by offering discounted or locked tuition to return. Understanding the academic journey for adult learners and the influence employer tuition funding can help institutions formulate practices and facilitate degree completion within the post-traditional student population.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Andrea J. Gross


Received from ProQuest

File Format



English (eng)


150 pgs

File Size

2.1 MB


Higher education, Adult education