Working Paper

Four-Year Effects on Degree Receipt and Employment Outcomes from a Performance-Based Scholarship Program in Ohio


A college degree is often viewed as a key step toward better employment and higher earnings. Many community college students, however, never graduate and cannot reap the financial benefits associated with a college degree. Although existing research suggests that financial aid interventions can modestly improve students’ short-term academic outcomes, there is little rigorous evidence on the critical question of whether such interventions improve graduation rates or employment outcomes. This study helps to fill that gap by using a randomized controlled trial involving over 2,000 community college students. It focuses on low-income parents, most of whom are low-income mothers. The study includes four years of post-random assignment data to examine the long-term impact of a performance-based scholarship program — financial aid that is contingent on academic performance — on degree receipt, employment, and earnings. The findings provide evidence that the program decreased the time it took students to earn a degree, but the findings do not provide evidence that the program increased employment or earnings by the end of the study period.