The impact of merit-based financial aid on college enrollment: A field experiment
Merit-based financial aid awards have become increasingly prevalent in the pricing policies of higher education institutions. This study utilizes an experiment to estimate the efficacy of merit-aid awards in achieving the institutional objective of attracting the most academically desirable applicants. I find that merit aid has a statistically significant but inelastic effect on enrollment of extremely high ability students. Additionally, the setting of this paper allows for a test of whether students respond to the framing of price in making enrollment decisions (i.e. price illusion), holding net price constant. There is weak evidence in support of price illusion among this set of students.
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