Financial Incentives

March, 2013

Too many students enter college underprepared, drop out, and never earn a credential that would give them access to stable, well-paid jobs. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo describes some promising college readiness programs that can provide students with the skills they need to successfully complete college, but cautions that more evidence is needed.

February, 2013

America faces a two-pronged problem in higher education: increasing costs and low completion rates. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo describes how offering financial aid that rewards academic progress may help students pay for college and complete their degrees more quickly.


Early Findings from a Program for Housing Voucher Recipients in New York City

December, 2012

Opportunity NYC–Work Rewards is testing three ways of increasing work among families receiving housing vouchers — services and a savings plan under the federal Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, the FSS program plus cash incentives for sustained full-time work, and the cash incentives alone. Early results suggest intriguing positive findings for certain subgroups.


Lessons from Two New York City Community Colleges

November, 2012
Reshma Patel, Timothy Rudd

Can a scholarship without services improve academic progress? For adult developmental education students, this program encouraged more full-time enrollment during the semesters in which it operated and increased registration and credit accumulation in the summer semester, but it did not increase the average number of semesters registered or credits earned over two years.

August, 2011

This policy brief, developed by the Urban Institute for the federal Administration for Children and Families, examines what is known about welfare recipients with serious barriers to work, what states are doing to serve them, and what research says about which interventions are most effective.

Issue Focus
October, 2012

In this commentary published by Spotlight on Poverty, MDRC President Gordon Berlin makes the case for creating a more flexible safety net that continues to reward work when jobs are plentiful, provides employment to poor families when jobs disappear, and begins to address the problem of stagnant wages at the low end of the labor market.


The Effects of New York City’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program

September, 2012
Pamela Morris, J. Lawrence Aber, Sharon Wolf, Juliette Berg

What happens if parents and their teenagers are offered cash incentives if the teens go to school and pass their exams? Teens spend more time on academically oriented activities but are no more likely to be engaged in school. Parents save more for college. Surprisingly, teens are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program is the main federal program for increasing employment and earnings and reducing reliance on government subsidies among recipients of housing subsidies. Created in 1990, FSS is administered by state and local public housing agencies with funding from the U.S...