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Additional Grant Aid Boosts Student Success and Earnings

July 19, 2019

Low-income students who enroll for the first time at four-year public colleges and are eligible for additional grant aid -- meaning larger federal Pell Grant awards and state and other grant aid -- are significantly more likely to earn a degree and more in earnings after they graduate.

That's the bottom-line finding from a new study published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. The study, which was based on administrative data from Texas public colleges, found that the estimated impact of additional aid on graduates' earnings and corresponding tax payments alone are enough to fully recoup government spending on the grants within a decade. As a result, the researchers said, grant aid likely pays for itself several times over.

"The aid not only speeds up degree receipt but increases the overall number of college graduates," the study concluded. "In this setting, the benefits of additional aid provided to low-income students are substantial, and among students entering public universities in Texas, increasing grant aid pays for itself through financial gains for the public."

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Paul Fain

Paul Fain, Contributing Editor, came to Inside Higher Ed in September 2011, after a six-year stint covering leadership and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Paul has also worked in higher ed P.R., with Widmeyer Communications, but couldn't stay away from reporting. A former staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Va., Paul has written for The New York Times, Washington City Paper and Mother Jones. He's won a few journalism awards, including one for beat reporting from the Education Writers Association and the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award. Paul got hooked on journalism while working too many hours at The Review, the student newspaper at the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in political science in 1996. A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a long-suffering fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, Fain plays guitar in a band with more possible names than polished songs.

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