Does Attending an Elite University Help Low-Income Students? Evidence from Texas

Do scholarship programs that provide academic and social supports help high-achieving, low-income students enroll in and graduate from flagship colleges?

The evidence on intergenerational mobility suggests that low-income students who graduate college, especially selective institutions, move well up the socio-economic ladder as adults. However, too few low-income students succeed in college at any level, let alone at selective public institutions. Little is known about the effectiveness of programs that raise graduation rates for well-prepared low-income and minority students. Lovenheim and colleagues will provide the first causal evidence of whether two such programs, Century Scholars (CS) and Longhorn Opportunity Scholarship (LOS), which provide academic, social, and financial supports, affect students’ college outcomes, including GPA, time to degree, and post-collegiate earnings. The study’s policy contribution is to study a program that addresses the multiple challenges faced by low-income college students, including poor information about college, financial difficulties, inadequate academic preparation, and cultural differences in a selective public university setting. With the Russell Sage Foundation, we will jointly fund the costs to make the data available for analysis and to collect information about how the programs are administered for this project.

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