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Financial Aid Policy: Lessons from Research

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  • Susan Dynarski
  • Judith Scott-Clayton

Abstract

In the nearly fifty years since the adoption of the Higher Education Act of 1965, financial aid programs have grown in scale, expanded in scope, and multiplied in form. As a result, financial aid has become the norm among college enrollees. The increasing size and complexity of the nation’s student aid system has generated questions about effectiveness, heightened confusion among students and parents, and raised concerns about how program rules may interact. In this article, we review what is known and what is not known about how well various student aid programs work. We find evidence that lowering costs can improve college access and completion, but this general rule is not without exception. For example, the complexity of program eligibility and delivery appears to moderate the impact of aid, and for students who have already decided to enroll, grants that link financial aid to academic achievement appear to boost college outcomes more than do grants with no strings attached. Future research is likely to focus on several issues: the importance of program design and delivery, whether there are unanticipated interactions between programs, and to what extent program effects vary across different types of students.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18710.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
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Publication status: published as chapter in The Future of Children, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Spring 2013).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18710

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Cited by:
  1. Ricardo Reis, 2013. "Central Bank Design," NBER Working Papers 19187, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Brad J. Hershbein & Kevin Hollenbeck, 2013. "The Distribution of College Graduate Debt, 1990 to 2008: A Decomposition Approach," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research 14-204, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  3. Bleemer, Zachary & Zafar, Basit, 2014. "Information heterogeneity and intended college enrollment," Staff Reports, Federal Reserve Bank of New York 685, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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