The Long Run Impacts of Merit Aid: Evidence from California's Cal Grant
77 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 2016
We examine the long-term impacts of California’s state-based financial aid by tracking students’ educational and labor force outcomes for up to 14 years after high school graduation. We identify program impacts by exploiting variation in eligibility rules using GPA and family income cutoffs that are ex ante unknown to applicants. Aid eligibility increases undergraduate and graduate degree completion, and for some subgroups, raises longer-run annual earnings and the likelihood that young adults reside in California. Aid eligibility has no impact on take-up of the Pell or federal tax credits for higher education. These findings suggest that the net cost of financial aid programs may frequently be overstated, though our results are too imprecise to provide exact cost-benefit estimates.
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