Panel Paper: Is Traditional College Aid Too Little, Too Late? Impacts On Second-Year High School Outcomes From a Cluster Randomized Trial of An Early College Scholarship for Low-Income Students

Saturday, November 9, 2013 : 2:05 PM
Plaza II (Ritz Carlton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Douglas Harris, Tulane University
Most U.S. college financial aid programs do not make specific commitments to students until they are just about to start college, when most low-income students are already unprepared. Early college aid programs devote funds when students are younger, reduce the expected price and price uncertainty, and therefore may influence student behavior and academic performance during high school. This study is the first U.S.-based randomized trial of a promise program. In 2011, each first-time ninth grader in 18 Milwaukee high schools received a $12,000 scholarship offer. Treatment group students who achieve a 2.5 GPA and 90 percent attendance during high school and meet certain other requirements can use the scholarship funds for college. Consistent with prior studies of similar programs, first-year results indicate no average treatment effects on academic outcomes but positive effects on expectations and attitudes about college. Somewhat surprisingly, the program may have increased the number of disciplinary incidents. Implications for the conduct of randomized trials are considered. This presentation will focus on the second-year results.