WWC review of this study

Experimental evidence on the impacts of need-based financial aid: Longitudinal assessment of the Wisconsin Scholars Grant.

Anderson, D.M., Broton, K.M., Goldrickā€Rab, S., & Kelchen, R. (2020). Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 39(3), 720-739. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1257049

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    20,693
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: June 2021

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
College Degree Attainment outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Received a Bachelor's degree

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

6 Years

University students;
16,810 students

63.63

62.20

No

--
More Outcomes

Degree completion from two-year college within 6 years

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

6 Years

Two-year college students;
3,883 students

49.21

48.80

No

--
College enrollment outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

enrollment in graduate school

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

9 Years

University students;
16,810 students

16.10

16.30

No

--
More Outcomes

transfer to four-year college

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

9 Years

Two-year college students;
3,883 students

35.75

36.10

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 57%
    Male: 43%
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    Wisconsin
  • Race
    Asian
    8%
    Black
    8%
    Other or unknown
    5%
    White
    79%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    4%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    96%

Setting

The study included students from 13 four-year universities and 13 two-year colleges that are in the University of Wisconsin System (UW and UW Colleges) and 16 two-year public institutions that are part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS).

Study sample

The sample included four cohorts of students corresponding to four academic years (2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011). The study has two independent samples, students attending universities and students attending two-year community colleges. The university assigned sample included 2,220 students in the intervention group and 14,590 students in the comparison group. The sample of students in the two-year colleges included 1,058 students in the intervention group and 2,825 students in the comparison condition. All students in the assigned sample are included in the analytic sample. Across both samples, approximately 57 percent were female, 79 percent were White, 8 percent were Black, and 8 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander. Four percent of students were Hispanic.

Intervention Group

The WSG is a grant program designed to reduce the financial burdens of college attendance, and study authors hypothesized it would increase the chances of students completing their college education. The WSG provided students with $1,800 per year, each year in which they were enrolled in a two-year public institution. Students could receive the grant for up to ten semesters provided they: (a) remained enrolled full-time, (b) filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), (c) maintained Pell Grant eligibility with some remaining unmet need, and (d) made academic progress toward a degree. If students transferred to a public four-year university in Wisconsin, the grant amount increased to $3,500 per year. Students received a letter saying they were being offered the WSG in October of their first year of college. To receive the grant, students had to return a form to verify their eligibility. Of the students who were offered the grant, only 80 percent received it. This was due in part to ineligible students being randomized to study conditions, and possibly because grant notifications were not actually received by students, or because they did not return the verification form.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition entailed business-as-usual circumstances. Per the grant design, most students should have received a Pell Grant in their first year of college but still have some unmet financial need.

Support for implementation

The study does not describe support for implementation.

 

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