1. "Who Does Aid Help? Examining Heterogeneity in the Effect of Student Aid on Achievement" - (Job Market Paper)
Abstract. Does financial aid impact achievement differently for low- and high-income students? I exploit the eligibility requirements of a state merit-aid program that awards additional aid to STEM majors. A triple-difference design, using administrative data from a large institution and exploiting differences over time, by merit-aid recipient status, and by major type (STEM or non-STEM), shows that student aid increases the GPAs and graduation prospects of low-income students but has little impact on high-income students. Additional analysis suggests that reduction in student part-time work may be a potential mechanism for this differential effect. These results suggest that merit aid programs could be targeted more effectively than most currently are.
2. "The Spillover Benefits of Expanding Access to Preschool" - (Revise & resubmit, Economics of Education Review)
Abstract. I ask do spillover benefits exist from preschool. I exploit district and time variation in access to a state preschool program (CDEP) that targets disadvantaged four-year-olds (those eligible for free or reduced-price lunch or Medicaid). Utilizing a difference-in-differences design, I estimate the differential effects of CDEP exposure (residing in a CDEP district after launch at age four) on test scores. I find that CDEP benefits its targeted population and increases the math and reading scores of exposed, CDEP-ineligible students by about 0.13 and 0.14 standard deviations, respectively. These spillover effects may stem from improvements in the school learning environment.
3. "Free Lunch for All and Student Performance" with Crystal Zhan, Orgul Ozturk & John Gordanier - (Draft available upon request)
Abstract. In this paper we analyze the effect of Community Eligibility Provisions, a universal free-lunch program, on students’ academic performance and attendance. A school can participate in this program if at least 40 percent of its students are on programs such as SNAP and TANF. Even if a school is not eligible, it can still participate if it is part of a group of schools or a school district which comprises of schools which on average satisfy the above criteria. Using a difference in differences setup, we show that this program leads to about 0.04 of a standard deviation increase in Math test scores for elementary school students. Effect on reading scores are lower. We find no significant effect for middle school test scores. Effects are stronger for poorer students and in rural areas. We find no significant effects in urban areas for test scores. However, when we look at attendance as an outcome, we observe a significant decline in absences, but only in urban areas.
4. "The Impact of Equality Laws on Social Tolerance" with Zehra Valencia & Robert Pettis - (Draft available upon request)