When Opportunity Knocks, Who Answers? New Evidence on College Achievement Awards

Higher Education, May 2014

We eval­u­ate the effects of aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment awards for first- and sec­ond- year col­lege stu­dents study­ing at a Canadian com­muter col­lege. The award scheme offered lin­ear cash incen­tives for course grades above 70. Awards were paid every term. Program par­tic­i­pants also had access to peer advis­ing by upper­class­men. Program engage­ment appears to have been high but over­all treat­ment effects were small. The inter­ven­tion increased the num­ber of cours­es grad­ed above 70 and points earned above 70 for sec­ond year stu­dents but gen­er­at­ed no sig­nif­i­cant effect on over­all GPA. Results are some­what stronger for a sub­sam­ple of appli­cants who cor­rect­ly described the pro­gram rules.