WWC review of this study

Is information enough? The effect of information about education tax benefits on student outcomes.

Bergman, P., Denning, J. T., & Manoli, D. (2019). Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 38(3), 706-731. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1218020

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    1,042,303
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: December 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

Graduation from 4 year college

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

1 Year

ReEnroll Sample;
434,887 students

18.80

18.60

No

--
More Outcomes

Graduation from 2 year college

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

1 Year

ReEnroll Sample;
434,887 students

14.50

14.50

No

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

College enrollment in any college

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

2 Months

ReApply Sample;
526,614 students

44.50

44.40

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Enrollment in a four-year public university in Texas

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

2 Months

ReApply Sample;
526,614 students

13.10

13.00

No

--

Enrollment in a community college in Texas

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

-6 Months

ReApply Sample;
526,614 students

26.40

26.40

No

--

Enrollment in a four-year public university in Texas

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

-6 Months

ReApply Sample;
526,614 students

12.90

12.90

No

--

Any enrollment in public 2 year college, Texas

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

2 Months

ReApply Sample;
526,614 students

17.20

17.30

No

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

Filed FAFSA

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

5 Months

ReEnroll Sample;
434,887 students

70.50

70.70

No

--
More Outcomes

Filed FAFSA

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

4 Months

ReApply Sample;
526,614 students

26.80

26.90

No

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

College re-enrollment in any postsecondary institution

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

5 Months

ReEnroll Sample;
434,887 students

62.70

62.70

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

College re-enrollment in a community college in Texas

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

5 Months

ReEnroll Sample;
434,887 students

24.60

24.80

No

--

College re-enrollment in a 4-year Texas public university

Tax credit information campaign vs. Business as usual

5 Months

ReEnroll Sample;
434,887 students

36.40

36.20

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%

  • Rural, Suburban, Urban
    • B
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    Texas
  • Race
    Asian
    2%
    Black
    14%
    Other or unknown
    84%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    39%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    61%

Setting

The intervention was delivered to three types of college applicants in Texas who used the ApplyTexas.org portal: (1) rising high school seniors who applied to college; (2) students enrolled in a Texas college; and (3) students who had previously applied to Texas universities or colleges but who did not enroll.

Study sample

The Enroll sample has the following characteristics: 45% of students were male, 14% were Black, 6% were Asian, and 5% were of another race. About one-fourth of students (39%) were Hispanic. The ReEnroll sample has the following characteristics: 43% of students were male, 13% were Black, 4% were Asian, and 4% were of another race. About one-fourth of students (37%) were Hispanic. The ReApply sample has the following characteristics: 43% of students were male, 15% were Black, 2% were Asian, and 5% were of another race; 41% of students were Hispanic.

Intervention Group

Students in the intervention group received information via e-mail or mailed letters about tax benefits associated with college enrollment. Letters and e-mails came from ApplyTexas, a well-known official application portal. Variants of the treatment changed the content along the following dimensions costs/benefits/neutral; simple/complex/more tax credits; a separate e-mail regarding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); a FAFSA reminder in the tax e-mail; and a “peer” treatment for the Enroll sample. The Enroll sample received a first tax e-mail on April 1, 2014; a second tax e-mail on July 16, 2014; a letter on June 1, 2014; a separate FAFSA e-mail on February 18, 2014; and the outcome (college enrollment) was measured in fall 2014. The ReEnroll sample received a first tax e-mail on January 17, 2014; a second tax e-mail on March 25, 2014; and the outcome (college enrollment) was measured in fall 2014. The ReApply sample received a first tax e-mail on November 6, 2013; a second tax e-mail on July 16, 2014; and the outcome (college enrollment) was measured in spring 2014 and fall 2014.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group did not receive any communication regarding tax benefits for college.

Support for implementation

The researchers did not receive any support for implementation. The researchers partnered with ApplyTexas such that communication came from a well-known official applicant portal.

 

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