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How does aid matter? The effect of financial aid on university enrolment decisions

Author

Listed:
  • Loris Vergolini

    (IRVAPP, Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies)

  • Nadir Zanini

    (IRVAPP, Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies)

Abstract

Using a counterfactual approach, this paper empirically investigates the impact of an educational programme recently introduced in the Province of Trento (North-East of Italy). The aim of the policy is to foster university enrolment of students from low-income families and to reduce inequalities in access to higher education. The programme, known as Grant 5B, consists in generous incentives: it targets the university students from low-income families and is awarded upon both merit and demonstrated financial need. We exploit data from an ad hoc survey conducted on a sample of upper secondary graduates and employ a regression discontinuity design to estimate the impact of the intervention on the university enrolment decisions. We find that the programme has no significant effect on enrolment rates, but it exerts a positive effect on redirecting students already bound for university to enrol outside the place of residence. Relying on the relative risk aversion theory, we explain why a relaxation of the eligibility rules based on merit might be more effective in reducing social inequalities in access to university.

Suggested Citation

  • Loris Vergolini & Nadir Zanini, 2012. "How does aid matter? The effect of financial aid on university enrolment decisions," Working Papers 2012/7, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  • Handle: RePEc:ieb:wpaper:doc2012-7
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial aid; university enrolment; regression discontinuity; programme evaluation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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