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Student Responses to Merit Retention Rules

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  • Christopher M. Cornwell

    (University of Georgia)

  • Kyung Hee Lee

    (University of Georgia)

  • David B. Mustard

    (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 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 course enrollment, withdrawal and completion, and the diversion of course taking from the academic year to the summer, treating non-residents as a control group. First, we find that HOPE decreased full-load enrollments and increased course withdrawals among resident freshmen. The combination of these responses results in an 11\% lower probability of full-load completion and an annual average reduction in credits completed of 1.0. The latter implies that between 1993 and 1997 Georgia-resident freshmen completed 15,710 fewer credit hours or 3,142 individual course enrollments than non-residents. Second, the scholarship's influence on course-taking behavior is concentrated on students with GPAs on or below the scholarship-retention margin. Third, the effect increased as the income cap was lifted and more students became eligible for the award. Fourth, these freshmen credit-hour reductions represent an intertemporal substitution, not a general slowdown in academic progress. Finally, residents diverted an average of 1.65 more credits from the regular academic year to the first summer term after their matriculation, which amounts to a 72\% rise in summer course taking.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher M. Cornwell & Kyung Hee Lee & David B. Mustard, 2005. "Student Responses to Merit Retention Rules," HEW 0501001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwphe:0501001
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 24
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    File URL: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de/econ-wp/hew/papers/0501/0501001.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alejandro Gaviria & Steven Raphael, 2001. "School-Based Peer Effects And Juvenile Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 257-268, May.
    2. Christopher Cornwell & David B. Mustard, 2007. "Merit-Based College Scholarships and Car Sales," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 2(2), pages 133-151, February.
    3. Cornwell, Christopher & Lee, Kyung Hee & Mustard, David B., 2003. "The Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid on Course Enrollment, Withdrawal and Completion in College," IZA Discussion Papers 820, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. 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.
    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, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cowan, Benjamin W. & White, Dustin R., 2015. "The effects of merit-based financial aid on drinking in college," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 137-149.
    2. Judith Scott-Clayton & Basit Zafar, 2016. "Financial Aid, Debt Management, and Socioeconomic Outcomes: Post-College Effects of Merit-Based Aid," NBER Working Papers 22574, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Judith Scott-Clayton, 2011. "On Money and Motivation: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Financial Incentives for College Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(3), pages 614-646.
    4. Judith Scott-Clayton & Lauren Schudde, 2016. "Performance Standards in Need-Based Student Aid," NBER Working Papers 22713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Adam M. Lavecchia & Heidi Liu & Philip Oreopoulos, 2014. "Behavioral Economics of Education: Progress and Possibilities," NBER Working Papers 20609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    7. Carruthers, Celeste K. & Özek, Umut, 2016. "Losing HOPE: Financial aid and the line between college and work," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 1-15.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; Merit-based aid; Education Finance; HOPE Scholarship;

    JEL classification:

    • I - Health, Education, and Welfare

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