SEATTLE (CBS SEATTLE) — Policy makers and public education institutions are often big supporters of financial aid, but a recent study shows that many students who receive performance-based grants often don’t progress academically in the long run.

The study showed that students with grants made minor improvements while they were receiving the funds, but those same students’ performances dropped off when the scholarship ended.

“This suggests that while the program was effective when students were eligible for scholarships, the effects on enrollment and credits earned dissipated after the program ended,” the authors write.

The study was conducted by the nonprofit, nonpartisan MDRC social policy research organization and financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to examine the correlation between performance-based grants and long-term educational success.

The report, published in November, looked at the scholarships at two community colleges in New York City — the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Hostos Community College. Both are part of the public City University of New York system.

The study showed that the grants did have a positive impact while in force, if only just in attempts at taking courses.

For students receiving grants, full-time enrollment increased 4.1 percentage points in the first semester and 6.0 percentage points in the second semester of the scholarship program. It also showed increased registration during the students’ summer semesters.

However, the study showed no increases in credit accumulation or registration during the two-year follow-up period after the grants ended.

One variable the researchers conceded was not taken into account is the differences in each academic environment. The authors wrote that, “The analyses suggest that the impacts varied by college and that the college environments may have influenced these impacts.”


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