In a study “How Does Last-Dollar Financial Aid Affect First-Year Student Outcomes?”, researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia analysed enrolment and academic performance of students in the Bridging the Gap program of Rutgers University-Camden. They complemented their data with student interviews.
Last-dollar scholarship programmes look at the total costs of the student as well as the money they already found (e.g. with other scholarships) and then provide the remainder. However, the difference between first-dollar and last-dollar scholarship programmes is explained neatly in an info-sheet of the National Scholarship Providers Association.
The Rutgers study shows that the Bridging the Gap programme led to a boost in enrolment of lower-income New Jersey residents and diminished financial stress. There was also a correlation with academic performance, but it was unclear if this could be attributed to the Last-dollar programme.