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Does Financial Aid Impact College Student Engagement?

Author

Listed:
  • Angela Boatman

    (Vanderbilt University)

  • Bridget Terry Long

    (Harvard Graduate School of Education and NBER)

Abstract

While increasing numbers of students have gained access to higher education during the last several decades, postsecondary persistence and academic success remain serious concerns with only about half of college entrants completing degrees. Given concerns about affordability and resources, policymakers and administrators wonder how financial aid impacts student outcomes, particularly among low-income students. We investigate this question looking at a range of outcomes beyond just academic performance by focusing on the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, a generous grant program that provided a renewable scholarship to talented undergraduate students of color with financial need. We isolate the impact of financial aid on academic and community engagement by comparing the outcomes of GMS recipients to similar non-recipients who were likely to have comparably-high levels of motivation and potential for success. With information about the application process, we use similar applicants not selected for the award as a comparison group. We then employ a Regression Discontinuity research design to provide causal estimates of the effects of GMS. The results suggest that GMS recipients were more likely to engage with peers on school work outside of class. Additionally, GMS recipients were much more likely to participate in community service activities and marginally more likely to participate in other extracurricular activities than their non-GMS peers.

Suggested Citation

  • Angela Boatman & Bridget Terry Long, 2016. "Does Financial Aid Impact College Student Engagement?," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(6), pages 653-681, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:reihed:v:57:y:2016:i:6:d:10.1007_s11162-015-9402-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s11162-015-9402-y
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    2. Jin Chen & Don Hossler, 2017. "The Effects of Financial Aid on College Success of Two-Year Beginning Nontraditional Students," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 58(1), pages 40-76, February.
    3. Mulyaningsih, Tri & Dong, Sarah & Miranti, Riyana & Daly, Anne & Purwaningsih, Yunastiti, 2022. "Targeted scholarship for higher education and academic performance: Evidence from Indonesia," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 88(C).
    4. Vettoretto, Elena & Azzolini, Davide & Vergolini, Loris, 2019. "Why should financial aid affect university participation? A review of the literature," SocArXiv jbhy4, Center for Open Science.
    5. Silva, Polyana Tenório de Freitas e & Sampaio, Luciano Menezes Bezerra, 2023. "Does student aid make a degree more likely? Evidence of the permanence scholarship program from survival models," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C).

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