A college education is the best investment students can make in their future. For many, however, the cost is simply too high. And it keeps getting higher. Tuition at public universities has more than tripled since 1988.

With grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, DSG, along with researchers from the American Institutes for Research and the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania, is conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the impact of college aid interventions on students’ enrollment in, persistence through, and completion of postsecondary education programs.


The dominant approach to reducing the financial barriers to higher education attainment is to provide student financial assistance. In 2015–16, undergraduate students received more than $184 billion in financial assistance from programs sponsored by the federal government, state governments, colleges and universities, philanthropic organizations, and other entities.

Researchers have examined the effects of various individual student aid programs on several college-related outcomes. Little is known, however, about the comparative effects of these different approaches.

The multiyear study will evaluate the impact of college aid interventions (broad-based merit aid, place-based “promise” programs, need-based aid, and hybrid need-based/merit-based aid programs). With the results, we will provide direct and actionable guidance to local, state, and federal policymakers and practitioners on program types and design features that make a difference for student success.


For More Information

Contact DSG Senior Research Scientist Robin LaSota at 301.951.0056 or