Study: Loans Increased Community College Attainment

November 28, 2017

Community college students who were offered and took out loans earned more credits and attained higher grade point averages than did peers who did not receive the "nudge" to borrow, according to a study released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In the study, by Benjamin M. Marx of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Lesley J. Turner of the University of Maryland at College Park, students at a large community college were randomly offered either a loan of $0 or a loan of $3,500 (for freshmen) or $4,500 (for sophomores). The differing loan offers had no meaningful impact on whether students enrolled in the year the loans were offered, but the students who borrowed subsequently "earned 3.7 more credits and increased their GPAs by 0.6 when induced to borrow by the nudge, representing increases of roughly 30 percent relative to control group means." And the students who received the nudge were 10 percentage points (or 200 percent) more likely to transfer to a four-year institution.

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