The role of merit-based and need-based financial aid: Evidence from Trieste University's grant programs
The aim of this article is to investigate whether the Italian University grants are an effective tool to prevent student drop-out and to favor the degree attainment, both for merit and need-based financial aids. The survey units are Italian students enrolled on a degree course in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics from 2002/03 until 2007/08 in the University of Trieste. On the one hand, the Regional Agency for the Right to Education offers some grants every year to eligible students from low-income families (rarely related to merit). On the other hand, Fonda Foundation offers some (only) merit-based grants to the best students enrolled in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics degree courses. In order to estimate the causal effect of receiving a grant, we follow the counterfactual analysis and we match treated and control units using Genetic matching and Coarsened Exact Matching. The results suggest that the income-based financial aids have a positive impact to prevent drop-out at 2nd year, but a nonsignificant effect on graduation time, whereas the merit-based scholarships increase the probability to achieve the degree in the time alloted.
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