Josh Angrist, David Autor, Amanda Pallais, 06 December 2020

The US government and private organisations spend substantial amounts on financial aid for college students. Does this lead more students to complete college, or simply reimburse students who would have earned degrees anyway? This column reports on a randomised controlled trial with a private provider of post-secondary grant aid in Nebraska. It finds that awards increase enrolment and that recipients are considerably more likely to enrol at a four-year, rather than a two-year, college. Awards also boost bachelor’s degree completion rates in particular among subgroups that are typically less likely to complete a college degree.

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