NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2016Evaluating Post-Secondary Aid: Enrollment, Persistence, and Projected Completion Effects
with Joshua Angrist, David Autor, Amanda Pallais: w23015
This paper reports updated findings from a randomized evaluation of a generous, privately-funded scholarship program for Nebraska public college students. Scholarship offers boosted college enrollment and persistence. Four years after award receipt, randomly-selected scholarship winners were 13 percentage points more likely to be enrolled in college. Enrollment effects were larger for groups with historically low college attendance, including nonwhite students, first-generation college-goers, and students with low high school GPAs. Scholarships shifted many students from two- to four-year colleges, reducing associate’s degree completion in the process. Despite their substantial gains in four-year college enrollment, award winners from the first study cohort were slightly less likely to gra...
December 2014Leveling Up: Early Results from a Randomized Evaluation of Post-Secondary Aid
with Joshua Angrist, David Autor, Amanda Pallais: w20800
Does financial aid increase college attendance and completion? Selection bias and the high implicit tax rates imposed by overlapping aid programs make this question difficult to answer. This paper reports initial findings from a randomized evaluation of a large privately-funded scholarship program for applicants to Nebraska’s public colleges and universities. Our research design answers the challenges of aid evaluation with random assignment of aid offers and a strong first stage for aid received: randomly assigned aid offers increased aid received markedly. This in turn appears to have boosted enrollment and persistence, while also shifting many applicants from two- to four-year schools. Awards offered to nonwhite applicants, to those with relatively low academic achievement, and to appli...
 
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