Tertiary education and financial aid assistance: evidence from an information experiment

Luca Bonacini (University of Bologna)


Understanding the role of preferences, attitudes, and future expectations among disadvantaged students seems crucial in explaining their investment decisions in higher education. Indeed, perceptions about the consumption value of education may explain a substantial share of the variation in students’ ability to continue their studies, influencing their probability of finding a job. We conduct a field experiment with university students in Emilia-Romagna who benefit from financial aid assistance to enroll in tertiary education offered by the regional public system. Our preliminary results suggest that stressing the importance of maintaining the public grants has a much larger impact on different outcomes (career, part-time, and so on) than the one related to the alternative message about the importance of graduating from college. Heterogeneity analysis allows different conclusions in this perspective while disentangling the contributions of some channels (wealth, social background, family environment) influences students’ beliefs.

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