IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ecl/harjfk/rwp01-034.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion

Author

Listed:
  • Dynarski, Susan

    (Harvard U)

Abstract

Does student financial aid increase college attendance, or simply subsidize costs for infra-marginal students? Settling the question empirically is a challenge, because aid is correlated with many characteristics that influence schooling decisions. A shift in financial aid policy that affects some youth but not others can provide an identifying source of variation in aid. In 1982, Congress eliminated the Social Security student benefit program, which at its peak provided grants totaling $3.9 billion a year (amounts are in constant 2000 dollars) to one out of eight college students. I use difference-in-differences analysis to evaluate the effect of this program on schooling outcomes. Using the death of a parent to proxy for Social Security beneficiary status, I find that the college attendance of the affected group dropped by more than a third, and schooling by two-thirds of a year. Offering $1,000 of grant aid increases the probability of attending college by 3.6 percentage points and years of completed schooling by a tenth of a year. Aid eligibility also appears to have a positive impact on school quality.

Suggested Citation

  • Dynarski, Susan, 2001. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," Working Paper Series rwp01-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp01-034
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/getFile.aspx?Id=21
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Aigner, Dennis J., 1973. "Regression with a binary independent variable subject to errors of observation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 49-59, March.
    2. Dynarski, Susan, 2000. "Hope for Whom? Financial Aid for the Middle Class and Its Impact on College Attendance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 53(3), pages 629-662, September.
    3. Joshua D. Angrist, 1993. "The Effect of Veterans Benefits on Education and Earnings," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 637-652, July.
    4. Freeman, Richard B, 1984. "Longitudinal Analyses of the Effects of Trade Unions," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 1-26, January.
    5. Neil S. Seftor & NSarah E. Turner, 2002. "Back to School: Federal Student Aid Policy and Adult College Enrollment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(2), pages 336-352.
    6. Angrist, J.D. & Imbens, G.W., 1992. "Average causal response with variable treatment intensity," Discussion Paper 1992-34, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    7. Thomas J. Kane, 1995. "Rising Public College Tuition and College Entry: How Well Do Public Subsidies Promote Access to College?," NBER Working Papers 5164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Robin L. Lumsdaine & James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1996. "Why Are Retirement Rates So High at Age 65?," NBER Chapters, in: Advances in the Economics of Aging, pages 61-82, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2002. "Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 784-815, October.
    10. Meyer, Bruce D, 1995. "Natural and Quasi-experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 151-161, April.
    11. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-641, June.
    12. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
    13. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
    14. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," Working Papers 710, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    15. Turner, Sarah & Bound, John, 2003. "Closing the Gap or Widening the Divide: The Effects of the G.I. Bill and World War II on the Educational Outcomes of Black Americans," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(1), pages 145-177, March.
    16. Kane, Thomas J, 1994. "College Entry by Blacks since 1970: The Role of College Costs, Family Background, and the Returns to Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 878-911, October.
    17. Manski, Charles F., 1989. "Schooling as experimentation: a reappraisal of the postsecondary dropout phenomenon," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 305-312, August.
    18. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
    19. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
    20. Summers, Lawrence H, 1989. "Some Simple Economics of Mandated Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 177-183, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Susan Dynarski, 2008. "Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 576-610.
    2. David Deming & Susan Dynarski, 2009. "Into College, Out of Poverty? Policies to Increase the Postsecondary Attainment of the Poor," NBER Working Papers 15387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hickman, Daniel C., 2009. "The effects of higher education policy on the location decision of individuals: Evidence from Florida's Bright Futures Scholarship Program," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 553-562, September.
    4. Gabrielle Fack & Julien Grenet, 2015. "Improving College Access and Success for Low-Income Students: Evidence from a Large Need-Based Grant Program," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 1-34, April.
    5. Molina, Teresa & Rivadeneyra, Ivan, 2020. "The Schooling and Labor Market Effects of Eliminating University Tuition in Ecuador," IZA Discussion Papers 13638, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Lovenheim, Michael F. & Owens, Emily G., 2014. "Does federal financial aid affect college enrollment? Evidence from drug offenders and the Higher Education Act of 1998," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 1-13.
    7. David Deming & Susan Dynarski, 2010. "College Aid," NBER Chapters, in: Targeting Investments in Children: Fighting Poverty When Resources are Limited, pages 283-302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Vivian Yuen Ting Liu, 2020. "Is School Out for the Summer? The Impact of Year-Round Pell Grants on Academic and Employment Outcomes of Community College Students," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 15(2), pages 241-269, Spring.
    9. Susan Dynarski, 2005. "Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor," Working Papers 15, Princeton University, School of Public and International Affairs, Education Research Section..
    10. Waddell, Glen R. & Singell Jr., Larry D., 2011. "Do no-loan policies change the matriculation patterns of low-income students?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 203-214, April.
    11. Susan Dynarski, 2002. "The Behavioral and Distributional Implications of Aid for College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 279-285, May.
    12. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Andrew Barr, 2015. "From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard: The Short- Term Impact of the Post- 9/11 GI Bill," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(3), pages 580-613.
    14. Dynarski, Susan M. & Scott–Clayton, Judith E., 2006. "The Cost of Complexity in Federal Student Aid: Lessons From Optimal Tax Theory and Behavioral Economics," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 59(2), pages 319-356, June.
    15. Brigitte C. Madrian, 2014. "Applying Insights from Behavioral Economics to Policy Design," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 663-688, August.
    16. Vergolini, Loris & Zanini, Nadir, 2015. "Away, but not too far from home. The effects of financial aid on university enrolment decisions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 91-109.
    17. Susan Dynarski, 2004. "The New Merit Aid," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 63-100, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Bednar, Steven & Gicheva, Dora, 2013. "Tax benefits for graduate education: Incentives for whom?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 181-197.
    19. Susan Dynarski & Judith Scott-Clayton & Mark Wiederspan, 2013. "Simplifying Tax Incentives and Aid for College: Progress and Prospects," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 27, pages 161-201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Susan M. Dynarski & Judith E. Scott-Clayton, 2008. "Complexity and Targeting in Federal Student Aid: A Quantitative Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 22, pages 109-150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp01-034. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ksharus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ksharus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.