Source: Brookings Institution

This study examines one of the first randomized control trials of a program similar to many free college and promise scholarship proposals. Students in 18 randomly selected high schools were promised up to $12,000 to pay for college, at essentially any in-state institution. The Degree Project had some impact on students’ motivation, college expectations, and steps toward college, such as applying to more colleges and FAFSA completion. However, it had no effect on the performance measures and no effect on whether students went directly on to college. The most recent evidence does suggest that the scholarship may have slightly increased persistence and graduation in two-year colleges, though not in four-year colleges.