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The Consequences of Merit Aid

  • Susan Dynarski

Since the early Nineties, a dozen states have established broad-based merit aid programs. The typical program waives tuition and fees at public colleges and universities in one's home state. Unlike traditional merit programs, such as the National Merit Scholarship, this aid requires relatively modest academic performance and provide scholarships to hundreds of thousands of students. This paper examines how merit aid programs in seven states have affected an array of schooling decisions, paying particular attention to how the effects have varied by race and ethnicity. I find that the new programs typically increase the attendance probability of college-age youth by five to seven percentage points. The merit programs also shift students toward four-year schools and away from two-year schools. The Georgia HOPE Scholarship, which has been found to widen racial gaps in college attendance (Dynarski, 2000) is atypical in its distributional impact, with the other state's programs tending to have a more positive effect on the college attendance rate of Blacks and Hispanics. I attribute HOPE's unique distributional effect to its relatively stringent academic requirements and a recently-eliminated provision that channeled the most generous scholarships to higher-income students.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9400.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9400.

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Date of creation: Dec 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9400
Note: CH ED PE
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  1. Rubenstein, Ross & Scafidi, Benjamin, 2002. "Who Pays and Who Benefits? Examining the Distributional Consequences of the Georgia Lottery for Education," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(N. 2), pages 223-238, June.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Susan M. Dynarski, 1999. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," NBER Working Papers 7422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
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