Scholarships For Need Based Students

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Labels are important. Girls who were reminded of stereotypes about how girls do in math did worse on math exams (in some cases). Public exposure of student caste in India has led to a decline in the performance of students from castes traditionally lower in the caste hierarchy. In the US, cartoon vegetable banners increased schoolchildren’s vegetable consumption by 90 percent. These are all forms of marking. A new study shows that labeling is important for school scholarships, too, based on merit, not need.

Merit-based scholarships have real appeal. They create an incentive for children to put more effort into school than just attend. In Kenya, merit-based scholarships for primary school students have led to academic success even among children whose initial performance was so poor that they had little chance of receiving a scholarship. But merit-based scholarships can also backfire. In the US, where most scholarships are oriented toward higher education, merit-based scholarships tend to go to higher-income students, and these students are more likely to continue their studies. In addition, when merit-based scholarships lead to better students graduating from school, they can widen the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income students. There’s nothing wrong with a rich student doing well in school, but should meager pocket money (or shillings or pesos or francs or riels) really be spent on it? If not, perhaps a need-based scholarship makes the most sense. Need-based scholarships for high school students in Ghana have increased learning, reduced birth rates and increased post-school earnings.

Scholarships For Need Based Students

Scholarship affects student learning in at least three ways. First, the direct effect of money. This happens after the scholarship is awarded, as in the Ghanaian example, and should happen whether the scholarship is based on merit or need. Second, the effect of awarding merit scholarships on students’ incentives to work hard in school. This happens before the award of the fellowship – and afterwards, if the extension depends on long-term work, as in the Kenyan example. We expect to see this only in merit-based scholarships. The third effect is the labeling effect, which has been little tested and which we saw in the Cambodian scholarship program.

Minimum Gpa Required To Maintain Merit Based Scholarship Reduced

Ten years ago, fourth graders in Cambodia received a scholarship that offset part of their primary school expenses. At some schools, these scholarships are based on merit; in others they are based on financial need. Three years into the program, Barrera-Osorio and Filmer showed that students who received any type of scholarship were more likely to stay in school and come to class. Scholarship recipients are 23–32% more likely to complete primary school. But only students who receive scholarships for merit passed the exam better.

Of course, the first suspect in this decision is that different students received scholarships. If high-achieving students receive merit scholarships and low-achieving students receive need-based scholarships, then we can easily imagine high learning outcomes among merit scholarship recipients. But here’s the catch: “Students with high baseline scores who received scholarships for the poor did no better on subsequent tests than the ‘control group.’ Alternatively, “poor people who receive merit-based scholarships do better on subsequent tests.” In other words, if you look at kids who qualify for any program—high-achieving kids, low-income kids—learn more from merit scholarships, not required scholarships. So it’s not just students being selected: it’s labeling.

Nine years after the program began — recipients are in their early 20s — new results from Barrera-Osorio, de Barros and Filmer show the two scholarships are vastly different. Both types of scholarships still lead to a higher level of education. Again, merit scholarships alone lead to higher levels of learning as measured by test scores. But merit scholarship recipients also report higher levels of health and employment. (Remarkably, merit scholarship benefits did not translate into higher social-emotional skills.) And, as before, the results showed that the same students did better with merit scholarships than with need scholarships.

Why is this label important? Students who receive scholarships for merit are reminded of their academic potential by the scholarship itself, while students who receive scholarships for need are only reminded of their financial need. It is not difficult to imagine who among them will encourage students to focus on realizing their academic potential.

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As the author notes, the solution may be to use merit scholarships, but still ensure that the most needy students are among the recipients. This can be done by targeting schools or districts where the majority of students are most in need, so merit scholarships will reach students in need. Or it can happen with a two-stage selection process where merit scholarships are awarded to students who have been identified as needing them.

It’s good when financial aid is given to the most vulnerable students, but these results show that it’s appropriate to do so in a way that emphasizes their abilities rather than their needs.

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