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Working paper
Tommaso Agasisti, Samuele Murtinu

2013/33 : Are we wasting public money? No! The effects of grants on Italian university students’ performances

In this paper, we estimate the effect of receiving a financial aid for a cohort of students who enrolled at Politecnico di Milano (Italy) in the year 2007/08, through a Propensity Score Matching approach. Using administrative data about these students for four years, we were able to evaluate the impact of the financial aid on several dimensions of academic performance: formative credits obtained after one year, dropout probability in the first and second year, graduation in the legal duration of the course, and graduation after four years. Overall, we find a positive and statistically significant effect of the grant; this finding is stable across several robustness checks. Exploring the heterogeneity of this effect, we demonstrate that this latter is higher for immigrants, Italians who moved from another region for studying, and students attending an Engineering course. We also find evidence that unobservable factors (such as students’ own intrinsic academic motivation) account for an important part of the estimated impact of the financial aid.

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