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The Effects of State-Sponsored Merit Scholarships on Course Selection and Major Choice in College

Author

Listed:
  • Cornwell, Christopher

    () (University of Georgia)

  • Lee, Kyung Hee

    () (Sogang University)

  • Mustard, David B.

    () (University of Georgia)

Abstract

A common justification for HOPE-style merit-aid programs is to promote and reward academic achievement, thereby inducing greater investments in human capital. However, grade-based eligibility and retention rules encourage other behavioral responses. Using data extracted from the longitudinal records of all undergraduates who enrolled at the University of Georgia (UGA) between 1989 and 1997, we estimate the effects of HOPE on college GPA, course selection, and major choice, treating non-residents as a control group. First, we find that HOPE increased resident freshman GPA by 0.13 point, while its effect on GPA after the first year is weak. Second, HOPE reduced the number of credit hours completed in math and science core curriculum courses during the first year, and this effect persisted into the second at roughly the same magnitude. Over both years, the estimated program effects imply that residents completed about 1.2 fewer math and sciences credit hours. Finally, the likelihood that the average resident freshman would choose to major in Education jumped 1.2 percentage points relative to their out-of-state counterparts after HOPE was introduced and the scholarship's influence on this decision was more pronounced for women and whites.

Suggested Citation

  • Cornwell, Christopher & Lee, Kyung Hee & Mustard, David B., 2006. "The Effects of State-Sponsored Merit Scholarships on Course Selection and Major Choice in College," IZA Discussion Papers 1953, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1953
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Julian R. Betts & Darlene Morell, 1999. "The Determinants of Undergraduate Grade Point Average: The Relative Importance of Family Background, High School Resources, and Peer Group Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(2), pages 268-293.
    2. Gary T. Henry & Ross Rubenstein, 2002. "Paying for grades: Impact of merit-based financial aid on educational quality," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 93-109.
    3. Thomas S. Dee & Linda A. Jackson, 1999. "Who Loses HOPE? Attrition from Georgia’s College Scholarship Program," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 379-390, October.
    4. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Stephen G. Donald, 2004. "The Effect of College Curriculum on Earnings: Accounting for Non-Ignorable Non-Response Bias," NBER Working Papers 10809, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Christopher M. Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Deepa Sridhar, 2005. "The Enrollment Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid: Evidence from Georgia's HOPE Scholarship," HEW 0501002, EconWPA.
    6. 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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    Cited by:

    1. David L. Sjoquist & John V. Winters, 2015. "State Merit Aid Programs and College Major: A Focus on STEM," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(4), pages 973-1006.
    2. Christopher Cornwell & David B. Mustard, 2005. "Evaluating HOPE-style merit scholarships," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 33-37.
    3. Welch, Jilleah G., 2014. "HOPE for community college students: The impact of merit aid on persistence, graduation, and earnings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 1-20.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    merit aid; education finance;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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