How does Achieve Atlanta’s place-based scholarship and services impact college enrollment, persistence, and completion?
Place-based college financial aid programs have emerged throughout the United States over the last two decades. One of the first was the Kalamazoo Promise in 2005. Since that time, over 100 communities have followed suit, typically with investments from local philanthropies, businesses, and individual donors. Founded in 2015, Achieve Atlanta (AATL) is one of those place-based non-profit organizations whose goal is to improve college access, persistence, and completion for students graduating from a school district in metro Atlanta. Half of the district’s students are classified as “economically disadvantaged,” and three-quarters of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. In this research, Carycruz Bueno, Lindsay Page, and Jonathan Smith assess the impact of AATL’s place-based scholarship and support services on college enrollment, persistence, and completion.
The paper finds that scholarship receipt has large and statistically significant effects on early college persistence that continue through bachelor’s degree completion within four years. These effects are concentrated among students with GPAs between 80 and 90 (on a 100-point scale)—many of whom are ineligible for state merit aid. There are no discernable effects on whether and where students enroll in college.
Overall, the paper analyzes and discusses potential issues related to implementation of the scholarship and impacts of scholarship eligibility and receipt. It concludes with some steps for future research and policy recommendations. The details and impacts of the scholarship and services’ implementation and impacts are increasingly important as other regions consider similar opportunities for their students.
This research is part of a broader research portfolio continuing with Achieve Atlanta. Future projects will examine the impacts of the scholarship on student debt and other postsecondary financial outcomes and will include student voices to better understand how they finance their education.
To read more, please download the policy brief and academic paper below.