WWC review of this study

The effects of need-based financial aid on employment and earnings: Experimental evidence from the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars. Working Paper 27125.

Carlson, D. E., Schmidt, A., Souders, S., & Wolfe, B. L. (2020). National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED604461

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    51,418
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: September 2021

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

First-Year GPA

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

4-year university sample (all cohorts);
34,221 students

N/A

N/A

No

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

Post-BA enrollment

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

4-Year University students in the following cohorts: 2009-10 through 2013-14.;
22,473 students

N/A

N/A

No

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

in-state earnings

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

4-Year University students in the following cohorts: 2009-10; 2010-11; 2011-12; 2012-13.;
18,155 students

13319.60

13709.98

No

--
More Outcomes

in-state earnings

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

2-Year Institution students in the following cohorts: 2009-10 through 2014-15.;
17,197 students

12726.22

12669.79

No

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

in-state employment

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

2-Year Institution students in the following cohorts: 2009-10 through 2014-15.;
17,197 students

87.70

87.80

No

--
More Outcomes

in-state employment

Wisconsin Scholars Grant (WSG) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

4-Year University students in the following cohorts: 2009-10; 2010-11; 2011-12; 2012-13.;
18,155 students

80.80

81.40

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.


  • 9% English language learners

  • Female: 55%
    Male: 45%

  • Rural, Suburban, Urban
    • B
    • A
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    Wisconsin
  • Race
    Other or unknown
    23%
    White
    77%

Setting

The study was conducted in postsecondary institutions in Wisconsin including all four-year universities, two-year colleges and two-year technical colleges that are part of the of University of Wisconsin System or the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Study sample

Within four-year institutions, 4,568 students were randomly assigned to the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars (FFWS) offer intervention group and 29,653 students were randomly assigned to the No FFWS offer comparison group. Within two-year institutions, for the first six cohorts, 3,918 students were randomly assigned to the FFWS offer intervention group and 13,279 students were randomly assigned to the No FFWS offer comparison group. Of the study sample, 77% of students were white; 55% were female; 9% were ever English language learners; and 20% received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Intervention Group

The Fund for Wisconsin Scholars (FFWS) grant provided up to $4,000 per year for students at four-year institutions and $1,800 per year for students at two-year institutions. FFWS is designed as a “last-dollar” aid program, meaning that it is designed to satisfy unmet financial need and, for a given student, will only be applied after all other sources of grant aid have been exhausted. Students do not directly apply for the FFWS grant. Rather, early in the fall of each academic year, every institution with the potential to enroll eligible students uses internal data to identify all newly eligible students who meet the award criteria. The institutions then send their lists of eligible students to the Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB), which randomly assigns students to receive a FFWS grant offer.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition were eligible to receive an FFWS grant but did not receive an offer. These students could have received other financial assistance through other grant programs.

 

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