Working Papers Series 2012, 5


The aim of this work is to investigate whether the Italian University grants are an effective tool to prevent student dropout and to favor the degree attainment within academic path both for merit and need-based financial aids. The survey units are Italian students enrolled on a degree course in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics from 2002/03 until 2007/08 in the University of Trieste. On the one hand, the Erdisu (Local Governmental Agency) offers some grants every year to eligible students from low-income families (scarcely related to the merit). The main objective of this intervention is to give equal opportunity to achieve higher education to motivated students irrespective of their income. On the other hand, Fonda Foundation offer some (only) merit-based grants to students enrolled in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics degree courses. The goal is to award the best students enrolled in the above courses. In order to estimate the causal effect of receiving a grant, we follow the literature on counterfactual analysis and we match treated and control units using Genetic matching and Coarsened Exact Matching. The results suggest that the need-based financial aids have positive impact to prevent drop-out at2nd year, but non significant effect on graduation time, whereas the merit-based scholarships increase the probability to achieve the degree on time.