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The Short-Term Effects of the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship on Student Outcomes

New Analyses of Worker Well-Being

ISBN: 978-1-78350-056-7, eISBN: 978-1-78350-057-4

Publication date: 11 August 2014


In order to study whether college scholarships can be an effective tool in raising students’ performance in secondary school, we use one aspect of the Kalamazoo Promise that resembles a quasi-experiment. The surprise announcement of the scholarship created a large change in expected college tuition costs that varied across different groups of students based on past enrollment decisions. This variation is arguably exogenous to unobserved student characteristics. We estimate the effects of this change by a set of “difference-in-differences” regressions where we compare the change in student outcomes in secondary school across time for different student “length of enrollment” groups. We also control for student fixed effects. We find positive effects of the Kalamazoo Promise on Promise-eligible students large enough to be deemed important – about a 9 percent increase in the probability of earning any credits and one less suspension day per year. We also find large increases in GPA among African American students.




We thank the following persons and groups for their comments and suggestions: Susan Dynarski, Douglas Harris, Susan Houseman, Caroline Hoxby, Brian Jacob, Lars Lefgren, the participants at various conferences where we have presented this paper (PromiseNet, AEFP, MEA, SOLE, APPAM, and the NBER Economics of Education Program Meeting), two anonymous referees, and Solomon Polachek. We have benefited from our discussions with Michael Rice. We thank Ben Jones and Allison Colosky for their editorial assistance. Wei-Jang Huang has provided outstanding research assistance. All errors are our own.


Bartik, T.J. and Lachowska, M. (2014), "The Short-Term Effects of the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship on Student Outcomes", New Analyses of Worker Well-Being (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 38), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 37-76.



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