IZA DP No. 6801: State Merit-based Financial Aid Programs and College Attainment
published in: Journal of Regional Science, 2015, 55(3), 364-390
We examine the effects of recently adopted state merit-based financial aid programs on college attendance and degree completion. Our primary analysis uses microdata from the 2000 Census and 2001-2010 American Community Survey to estimate the effects of merit programs on educational outcomes for 25 merit aid adopting states. We also utilize administrative data for the University System of Georgia to look more in depth at the effects of the HOPE Scholarship on degree completion in Georgia. We find strong consistent evidence that state merit aid programs have no meaningfully positive effect on college completion. Coefficient estimates for our preferred specifications are small and statistically insignificant. State merit aid programs do not appear to increase the percentage of young people with a college education.