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Testing a Social Innovation in Financial Aid for Low-Income Students: Experimental Evidence from Italy

Author

Listed:
  • Azzolini, Davide

    () (FBK-IRVAPP)

  • Martini, Alberto

    () (University of Piemonte Orientale)

  • Rettore, Enrico

    () (University of Trento)

  • Romano, Barbara

    () (ASVAPP)

  • Schizzerotto, Antonio

    () (IRVAPP)

  • Vergolini, Loris

    () (IRVAPP)

Abstract

This paper presents the results of a randomized controlled trial aimed at testing the effectiveness of an innovative intervention of asset building (Percorsi) on high school students' transition to the university. Contrary to most traditional forms of financial aid, the tested intervention is expected to enhance an active involvement of the families and imposes a strong conditionality in the use of the benefits. The experiment, called ACHAB (Affording College with the Help of Asset Building) has been carried out in the province of Torino (Northwest Italy) between 2014 and 2017. For the evaluation purpose, an ad hoc survey has been carried out to collect longitudinal information on enrolment decisions and academic performances (number of exams and persistence) during the first semester and at the beginning of the second year. External data and applicant baseline information were used to perform a multidimensional targeting strategy aimed at identifying the 'target population', i.e. those students who were at risk of giving up their university enrolment decisions because of economic reasons. The experimental results point to the existence of positive and significant effects of the program on university enrolment and sizeable and significant positive effects on academic performance and university persistence. The effects of the program are significantly larger for students coming from vocational schools than for students who completed technical or general secondary schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Azzolini, Davide & Martini, Alberto & Rettore, Enrico & Romano, Barbara & Schizzerotto, Antonio & Vergolini, Loris, 2018. "Testing a Social Innovation in Financial Aid for Low-Income Students: Experimental Evidence from Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 11625, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11625
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    4. Helena Skyt Nielsen & Torben Sørensen & Christopher Taber, 2010. "Estimating the Effect of Student Aid on College Enrollment: Evidence from a Government Grant Policy Reform," NBER Chapters,in: Income Taxation, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 185-215 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    higher education; social inequality; financial aid; asset building; randomized controlled trial;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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