Paying for Performance: The Education Impacts of a Community College Scholarship Program for Low-income Adults

February 2012
With Lisa Barrow, Lashawn Richburg Hayes, and Thomas Brock. FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. 2009-13.

We evaluate the effect of performance-based incentive programs on educational outcomes for community college students from a random assignment experiment at three campuses. Incentive payments over two semesters were tied to meeting two conditions—enrolling at least half time and maintaining a “C” or better grade point average. Eligibility increased the likelihood of enrolling in the second semester after random assignment and total number of credits earned. Over two years, program group students completed nearly 40 percent more credits. We find little evidence that program eligibility changed types of courses taken but some evidence of increased academic performance and effort.