Financial Incentives

Final Report on the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration

November, 2015
Alexander Mayer, Reshma Patel, Timothy Rudd, Alyssa Ratledge

Performance-based scholarships are designed to give students more money for college and to provide incentives for academic progress. This report analyzes data from rigorous evaluations of six different programs, in six states, with more than 12,000 students. The scholarship programs improved academic progress, including modest effects on degree completion.

Implementation Lessons from San Antonio and the Bronx

October, 2015
David M. Greenberg, Aurelia De La Rosa Aceves, M. Victoria Quiroz-Becerra, David H. Greenberg, Ari Oppenheim

Jobs-Plus was designed to raise and sustain the employment and earnings of residents of public housing developments. This report investigates how Jobs-Plus was replicated in more contemporary settings, analyzing the early implementation experiences of a community-based provider in the Bronx, NY, and the San Antonio Housing Authority in Texas.

Testimony Submitted to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance

September, 2015
Alexander Mayer, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, John Diamond

This testimony presented by MDRC’s Alex Mayer to the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance identifies several areas as being worthy of innovation paired with rigorous evaluation, including year-round financial aid, Federal Work-Study, and “satisfactory academic progress” in the Pell Grant program.

Interim Findings from the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration in California

June, 2015
Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Reshma Patel, Thomas Brock, Elijah de la Campa, Timothy Rudd, Ireri Valenzuela

This report presents early findings from a random assignment evaluation of performance-based scholarships targeting college-bound high school seniors in California. The scholarships were completely portable, meaning that a student could use them at any accredited, degree-granting college or university.

MDRC’s Projects in Math for Low-Income Students, from Preschool to College

June, 2015

In our increasingly technological world, developing basic math skills is crucial. What can be done to promote more effective math education? This two-page issue focus describes a number of MDRC projects — from preschool to postsecondary education — that seek to improve the performance of low-income students in math.

Interim Findings from the Work Rewards Demonstration in New York City

June, 2015
Stephen Nuñez, Nandita Verma, Edith Yang

This report presents four-year findings from a test of three interventions: the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, FSS plus cash work incentives, and cash work incentives alone. FSS+incentives improved employment and earnings among participants who were not working at study entry, but none of the interventions had impacts for participants overall.

Results from a Performance-Based Scholarship Experiment

June, 2015
Melissa Binder, Kate Krause, Cynthia Miller, Oscar Cerna

This random assignment study examines the long-term impacts of a program at The University of New Mexico offering low-income first-year students enhanced academic advising and financial aid that is contingent on performance. It finds that the program increased credit hour accumulation during the first two years and graduation rates after five years.

Evidence from Three Studies

June, 2015

Results from three random assignment studies at New York City community colleges suggest that year-round financial aid can increase enrollment during the summer and winter sessions — and that summer and winter enrollment can help students earn more credits.

April, 2015
Alexander Mayer, Reshma Patel, Melvin Gutierrez

This random assignment study examines the long-term impacts of a community college program offering financial aid that is contingent on academic performance. Focusing on low-income parents, mostly mothers, it finds that the program decreased the time it took students to earn a degree but did not increase employment or earnings.

Early Lessons from Family Rewards 2.0

October, 2014

This project builds on NYC’s earlier experiment with a conditional cash transfer program to reduce poverty and improve education, health, and employment outcomes. It tests a revised model in the Bronx and Memphis, adding family guidance to modified incentives paid more frequently. Early implementation findings suggest deeper family engagement.

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