Summarized report of a random control trial that measures the impact of performance-based scholarships on student outcomes.

“The study … uses a randomized controlled trial involving over 2,000 community college students and it includes four years of post-random assignment data on academic and employment outcomes to examine the long-term impact of a performance-based scholarship program on degree receipt, employment, and earnings. Additionally, this study targeted low-income parents — predominantly low-income mothers — a population that may be especially vulnerable to academic challenges related to financial constraints” (p.2).

“This study uses a randomized controlled trial to estimate the impact of the intervention. The estimates are intent-to-treat estimates — the estimated effect of being offered the opportunity to participate in the scholarship program — calculated by comparing the average outcomes of all students randomly assigned to the program group with the average outcomes of all students randomly assigned to the control group. The study is designed to estimate the impact of the program as a whole, rather than to disentangle the effects of the scholarship from the effects of the reminders or scholarship coordinators at the colleges” (p.5-6).  

(Abstractor: Author)

Performance-Based Scholarship Program in Ohio

Major Findings & Recommendations

“[The study] shows financial aid outcomes for the program year for all students and demonstrates that the program effectively increased financial aid receipt for students in the program group” (p.9). “Students in the program group are estimated to have received an additional $766 from the scholarship, a substantial increase, but still just about 10 percent of the average financial assistance students received during the program year” (p.10). “Students in the program group reduced their unsubsidized loans by an estimated average of $147….The scholarship was not specifically geared to reduce loans, but the reduction in educational debt may be an added benefit for students in the long run” (p.10). “The opportunity for additional aid was hypothesized to motivate students academically, promote behaviors believed to help students graduate, such as enrolling full time and studying more in order to meet the academic benchmarks, and instill confidence in students’ ability to succeed….In general, the survey results suggest that the program did not substantially change students’ attitudes and behaviors, but may have done so to a modest degree” (p.11). “The program also appears to have produced short-term impacts on degree completion, and accelerated the time it took students to earn degrees….Results suggest that the program may have shortened the time it took students to earn a credential” (p. 15). (Abstractor: Author)