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On Money and Motivation: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Financial Incentives for College Achievement

  • Judith Scott-Clayton
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    Programs linking college aid to academic achievement could work either by lowering the cost of college or by inducing additional student effort. I examine the PROMISE program in West Virginia, which offers free tuition to students who maintain a minimum GPA and course load. Using administrative data, I exploit discontinuities in the eligibility formula and the timing of implementation to estimate causal effects. I find robust and significant impacts on key academic outcomes. Impacts are concentrated around the annual requirements for scholarship renewal, suggesting that the program works via incentives for academic achievement, not simply by relaxing financial constraints.

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    File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/46/3/614
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    Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

    Volume (Year): 46 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 614-646

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    Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:46:y:2011:iii:1:p:614-646
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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    1. Thomas J. Kane, 2003. "A Quasi-Experimental Estimate of the Impact of Financial Aid on College-Going," NBER Working Papers 9703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Pietro Garibaldi & Francesco Giavazzi & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Rettore, 2012. "College Cost and Time to Complete a Degree: Evidence from Tuition Discontinuities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 699-711, August.
    3. Angrist, Joshua & Lang, Daniel W. & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 3134, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Working Papers 13039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. John Bound & Michael F. Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2012. "Increasing Time to Baccalaureate Degree in the United States," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 7(4), pages 375-424, September.
    6. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 2001. "The Effect of Parental Transfers and Borrowing Constraints on Educational Attainment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1051-1103, November.
    7. David S. Lee, 2009. "Training, Wages, and Sample Selection: Estimating Sharp Bounds on Treatment Effects," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1071-1102.
    8. Rothstein, Jesse & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 2011. "Constrained after college: Student loans and early-career occupational choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1-2), pages 149-163, February.
    9. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2007. "The Effect of Credit Constraints on the College Drop-Out Decision: A Direct Approach Using a New Panel Study," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20071, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
    10. Christopher M. Cornwell & Kyung Hee Lee & David B. Mustard, 2005. "Student Responses to Merit Retention Rules," HEW 0501001, EconWPA.
    11. Erica Field, 2009. "Educational Debt Burden and Career Choice: Evidence from a Financial Aid Experiment at NYU Law School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 1-21, January.
    12. Lee, David S. & Card, David, 2008. "Regression discontinuity inference with specification error," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 655-674, February.
    13. Christopher Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Deepa J. Sridhar, 2006. "The Enrollment Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid: Evidence from Georgia's HOPE Program," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 761-786, October.
    14. Christopher M. Cornwell & Kyung Hee Lee & David B. Mustard, 2005. "Student Responses to Merit Scholarship Retention Rules," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 895-917.
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