Scholars on Scholarship: Do they Succeed?

Jenna Burns, Alissa O'Rorke, Paul Snider, Colby Tomasello, and Anna Welch

Authors:  Jenna Burns, Alissa O’Rorke, Paul Sinder, Anna Welch, Colby Tomasello

Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Anne Donnelly and Michelle Leonard

College: Warrington College of Business


State-sponsored merit scholarship programs are funded by lottery proceeds and reward high school students for academic achievements. These programs seek to meet the rising demand for financial aid and incentivize students to stay in-state for college. This raises the question: are state-sponsored, lottery-funded merit-based scholarship programs effective at increasing the number of students who stay in-state, and how do they affect the educational outcomes of college students attending public university? Analyzing states with scholarship programs (Florida and Georgia) and states without scholarship programs (North Carolina and Virginia) isolates the potential impact of these programs. Within each state, the top public university was identified. Using statistics reported by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, indicators of academic outcomes (average grant aid, graduation rates, employment rate, mean salary, and graduate school continuation rate) were compared between the four universities. Based on research, analysis demonstrates a strong positive correlation between the presence of a scholarship program and mean salary and graduate school continuation rate, and limit the emigration of students. These programs have met their intended purpose of retaining and fostering overall positive educational outcomes for degree-seeking students, which encourages other states to establish similar programs.

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7 Responses
  1. Very interesting research, I love the title of your project! It is interesting to see that UF is the biggest feeder in terms of 4 year programs to graduate programs out of all of the schools. Why do you think this is the case?

  2. Jenna Burns

    Hi Marissa!

    Thank you! That’s a great question. We believe UF’s graduate school continuation rate to be elevated because of the popularity of combined degree programs in the school, as well as the low grant aid cost which expands financial possibilities for continuing education. We believe Georgia Tech, the other university with state-sponsored scholarships which we analyzed, to be an outlier in this regard because it is an engineering/STEM university. Hope this answers your question!

    1. That’s what I was thinking as well! I know we have a plethora of combined degrees that really give a lot of value to those programs as a whole. It seems that they serve as an entry point to graduate school. Thanks for the insight!

  3. Leah Barnes

    From personal experience from myself and peers, I know Bright Futures is a “pro” in terms of staying in state, but it’s interesting that you weren’t able to determine this from a statistical research perspective. It surprised me that the graduation rates were that much lower in states with the merit-based scholarship programs, but that the percentage of students that entered graduate school was higher in these states. Do you think there would be a way to determine why there is this relationship between percentage entering graduate school and the implementation of these merit-based scholarship programs?