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The effects of merit-based scholarships on first-year engineering student characteristics and academic behaviors

conference contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by X Chen, Matthew Ohland, R Long
State-sponsored merit-based scholarship programs have proliferated since the 1990s. Using student-level data across institutions, we estimate the effects of merit-based scholarships on first -time students’ characteristics and their first-year academic behaviors, with specific focus on engineering students. Difference-in-differences regression models are used in the analysis. We find that merit-based scholarships did not help improve SAT score or first-year GPA of resident students including those majoring in engineering. The average socioeconomic indicator of engineering students increased in the presence of merit-based scholarships, suggesting the socioeconomic diversity of engineering experienced a decline after scholarship adoption. Institutional differences existed in the mean SAT score and socioeconomic status, and this stratification was more prominent in engineering. The presence of merit-based scholarships was associated with an increased likelihood that resident students would withdraw from courses and take summer courses after scholarships were implemented. The effects of merit-based scholarships on first-year course load were disproportionate across states, following credit hour requirements in scholarship retention policies. Compared to total residents, engineering residents were more prone to reduce first-year credit hours with a merit-based scholarship in effect,possibly indicating that coursework for engineering students required more effort so that students chose a lighter load to maintain good grades.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)


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Atlanta, Georgia


American Society for Engineering Education

Place of Publication

Washington, DC

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Name of Conference

American Society for Engineering Education. Conference