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The Impact of Merit Aid on College Choice and Degree Attainment: Reexamining Florida’s Bright Futures Program

We replicate and extend prior work on Florida’s Bright Futures merit aid scholarship to consider its effect on college enrollment and degree completion. We estimate causal impacts using a regression discontinuity design to exploit SAT thresholds that strongly determine eligibility. We find no positive impacts on attendance or attainment, and instrumental variable results generally reject estimates as small as 1-2 percentage points. Across subgroups, we do find that eligibility slightly reduces six-year associate degree attainment for lower-SES students and may induce small enrollment shifts among Hispanic and White students. Our findings of these minimal-at-best impacts contrast those of prior works, attributable in part to methodological improvements and more robust data, and further underscore the importance of study replication. (JEL: H75, I21, I22, I23, I28)

Keywords
Bright Futures; financial aid; merit aid; regression discontinuity; replication
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/515y-rs28

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Gurantz, Oded, and Taylor Odle. (). The Impact of Merit Aid on College Choice and Degree Attainment: Reexamining Florida’s Bright Futures Program. (EdWorkingPaper: -306). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/515y-rs28

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