Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Steven Phelps chats with Sheryle Bauer at the University of Utah's College of Social Work in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. Phelps is attending the university on a scholarship provided by a university's endowment donor.

Performance-based scholarships do not seem to significantly increase students' motivation to complete degrees, according to a study by MDRC, a social policy research organization.

A set of low-income community college students from ages 22 to 35 was split into three different groups.

Students in the first group were given performance-based scholarships of up to $2,600 for two semesters. Individuals in the second received up to $3,900, also tied to performance, to cover two semesters and a summer session. The third section, as the control group, didn’t receive scholarships but were eligible for financial aid.

The study is not yet complete, but the information collected so far indicates connecting financial aid to academic success has no statistically significant effect on enrollment or success in school.

At the end of three semesters in two New York community colleges, 61.9 percent of those who received scholarships remained enrolled and 60.7 of the control group remained. Two semesters after the study ended, 51.2 percent of those with a scholarship were still in school and 49.5 percent of the control group continued school.

The study's findings seem to show that tying aid to performance is not a key element to success for lower-income students.

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