Publications by Type: Journal Article

Castleman, Ben, Bridget Terry Long, and Zachary Mabel. 2018. “Can Financial Aid Help to Address the Growing Need for STEM Education? The Effects of Need-Based Grants on the Completion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Courses and Degrees.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 37 (1): 136-166.
Boatman, Angela, and Bridget Terry Long. 2018. “Does Remediation Work for All Students? How the Effects of Postsecondary Remedial and Developmental Courses Vary by Level of Academic Preparation.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 40 (1): 29-58.
Bettinger, Eric P, and Bridget Terry Long. 2018. “Mass Instruction or Higher Learning? The Impact of College Class Size on Student Retention and Graduation.” Education Finance and Policy 13 (1): 97-118.
Boatman, Angela, and Bridget Terry Long. 2016. “Does Financial Aid Impact College Student Engagement?: Evidence from the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.” Research in Higher Education 57: 653-681. Abstract
While increasing numbers of students have gained access to higher education during the last several decades, postsecondary persistence and academic success remain serious concerns with only about half of college entrants completing degrees. Given concerns about affordability and resources, policymakers and administrators wonder how financial aid impacts student outcomes, particularly among low-income students. We investigate this question looking at a range of outcomes beyond just academic performance by focusing on the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, a generous grant program that provided a renewable scholarship to talented undergraduate students of color with financial need. We isolate the impact of financial aid on academic and community engagement by comparing the outcomes of GMS recipients to similar non-recipients who were likely to have comparably-high levels of motivation and potential for success. With information about the application process, we use similar applicants not selected for the award as a comparison group. We then employ a Regression Discontinuity research design to provide causal estimates of the effects of GMS. The results suggest that GMS recipients were more likely to engage with peers on school work outside of class. Additionally, GMS recipients were much more likely to participate in community service activities and marginally more likely to participate in other extracurricular activities than their non-GMS peers.
Castleman, Benjamin L., and Bridget Terry Long. 2016. “Looking beyond Enrollment: The Causal Effect of Need-Based Grants on College Access, Persistence, and Graduation.” Journal of Labor Economics 34: 1023-1073. Abstract
The government has attempted to ameliorate gaps in college access and success by providing need-based grants, but little evidence exists on the long-term impacts of such aid. We examine the effects of the Florida Student Access Grant (FSAG) using a regression-discontinuity strategy and exploiting the cut-off used to determine eligibility. We find that grant eligibility had a positive effect on attendance, particularly at public 4-year institutions. Moreover, FSAG increased the rate of credit accumulation and bachelor’s degree completion within 6 years, with a 22% increase for students near the eligibility cut-off. The effects are robust to sensitivity analysis.
Bettinger, Eric P, Bridget Terry Long, and Eric S. Taylor. 2016. “When inputs are outputs: The case of graduate student instructors.” Economics of Education Review 52: 63-76.
Bettinger, Eric P, Bridget Terry Long, Philip Oreopoulos, and Lisa Sanbonmatsu. 2012. “The role of application assistance and information in college decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA experiment.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 127: 1205-1242.
Long, Bridget Terry. 2010. “Beyond Admissions: Reflections and Future Considerations.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 627: 216-225.
Bettinger, Eric P., and Bridget Terry Long. 2010. “Does Cheaper Mean Better? The Impact of Using Adjunct Instructors on Student Outcomes.” Review of Economics and Statistics 92: 598-613. Abstract
Higher education has increasingly relied on part-time, adjunct instructors. Critics argue that adjuncts reduce educational quality because they often have less education than full-time professors. On the other hand, by specializing in teaching or being concurrently employed, adjuncts could enhance learning experiences. This paper quantifies how adjuncts affect subsequent student interest and course performance relative to full-time faculty using an instrumental variable strategy that exploits variation in the composition of a department's faculty over time. The results suggest that adjuncts often have a small, positive effect on enrollment patterns, especially in fields related to particular occupations.
Long, Bridget Terry. 2010. “Making College Affordable by Improving Aid Policy.” Issues in Science and Technology 26: 27-38.
Bettinger, Eric P., and Bridget Terry Long. 2009. “Addressing the Needs of Underprepared Students in Higher Education: Does College Remediation Work?” Journal of Human Resources 44: 736-771. Abstract
Each year, thousands graduate high school academically underprepared for college. Many must take remedial or developmental postsecondary coursework, and there is a growing debate about the effectiveness of such programs. This paper examines the effects of remediation using a unique data set of over 28,000 students. To account for selection biases, the paper implements an instrumental variables strategy based on variation in placement policies and the importance of proximity in college choice. The results suggest that students in remediation are more likely to persist in college in comparison to students with similar backgrounds who were not required to take the courses.
Long, Bridget Terry, and Michal Kurlaender. 2009. “Do Community Colleges Provide a Viable Pathway to a Baccalaureate Degree?” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 31: 30-53. Abstract
Community colleges have become an important entryway for students intending to complete baccalaureate degrees. However, many question the viability of the transfer function and wonder whether students suffer a penalty for starting at 2-year institutions. The authors examined how the outcomes of community college entrants compared with those of similar students who initially entered 4-year institutions within the Ohio public higher education system. Using a detailed data set, the authors tracked outcomes for 9 years and used multiple strategies to deal with selection issues: propensity score matching and instrumental variables. The results suggest that straightforward estimates are significantly biased, but even after accounting for selection, students who initially began at community colleges were 14.5% less likely to complete bachelor's degrees within 9 years. (Contains 22 notes, 9 tables, and 1 figure.)
Bound, John, Brad Hershbein, and Bridget Terry Long. 2009. “Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 23: 119-146. Abstract
Gaining entrance to a four-year college or university, particularly a selective institution, has become increasingly competitive over the last several decades. We document this phenomenon and show how it has varied across different parts of the student ability distribution and across regions, with the most pronounced increases in competition being found among higher-ability students and in the Northeast. Additionally, we explore how the college preparatory behavior of high school seniors has changed in response to the growth in competition. We also discuss the theoretical implications of increased competition on longer-term measures of learning and achievement and attempt to test them empiricallythe evidence and related literature, while limited, suggests little long-term benefit.
Osili, Una Okonkwo, and Bridget Terry Long. 2008. “Does female schooling reduce fertility? Evidence from Nigeria.” Journal of Development Economics 87: 57-75.
Long, Bridget Terry. 2007. “The Contributions of Economics to the Study of College Access and Success.” Teachers College Record 109: 2367-2443. Abstract
Background/Context: The essay provides a comprehensive review of work by economists and others in related quantitative disciplines on the transition of students to college. A particular emphasis is given to the role of price and financial aid although issues related to college preparation, access, and persistence are also investigated. The final section discusses ongoing debates within economics about college access and success and suggests directions for future research. Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: While other papers review parts of this literature, given the breadth and depth of the work on the transition to college, none gives a full picture of the contribution of economics to this area of understanding. Research Design: A main goal of the economics literature has been to establish a causal relationship rather than one based on the correlation of trends or patterns. In pursuit of causality, economists rely on complex estimation techniques usually involving large samples of quantitative data and often utilize "natural experiments" to establish the impact of a factor or policy. Unfortunately, the data requirements for such work, along with the concerns about biases, often limits the kinds of questions that can be confidently answered. The primary framework in economics of education is the human capital model. When deciding whether to continue their education, individuals compare the benefits of human capital to the costs of obtaining it. Numerous articles highlight important factors in these decisions, including both monetary and non-monetary considerations as well as uncertainty and risk aversion. Conclusions/Recommendations: While great progress has been made by economists to understand issues related to college access and success, the article makes suggestions about possible future research. More work is needed to understand the role of primary and secondary schools in college attendance, why there are differences in academic course-taking and performance, and the role of expectations and information in college access. Although economists have greatly contributed to the understanding of the role of costs and benefits in college demand, additional work is needed to clarify the role of parents, teachers, peers, and neighborhoods in college decisions. Additional research is also needed to resolve the current debate about the relative role of resources in comparison to long-term family circumstances and academic preparation. Finally, more information is also need about what factors affect college success.
Long, Bridget Terry, and Erin Riley. 2007. “Financial Aid: A Broken Bridge to College Access?” Harvard Educational Review 77: 39-63. Abstract
In this article, Bridget Terry Long and Erin Riley argue that in recent years, U.S. financial aid policy has shifted its emphasis from expanding college access for low-income students toward defraying the costs for middle- and upper-income families. They explain how loans, merit-based aid, and education tax breaks are increasingly replacing need-based aid and discuss how the declining role of grants may disproportionately disadvantage students already underrepresented in higher education. They document the rise in students' unmet financial needs over the past decade, showing that low-income students and students of color are especially likely to face substantial unmet need even after taking into account all available grants and loans, as well as family contributions. In response to these trends, the authors call for a greater emphasis on need-based aid, especially grants, to reduce the role of cost as a barrier to college access. (Contains 3 tables and 18 endnotes.)
Bettinger, Eric P., and Bridget Terry Long. 2005. “Do Faculty Serve as Role Models? The Impact of Instructor Gender on Female Students.” American Economic Review 95: 152-157.
Bettinger, Eric P, and Bridget Terry Long. 2005. “Remediation at the community college: Student participation and outcomes.” New Directions for Community Colleges 2005: 17-26.
Long, Bridget Terry. 2004. “Does the format of a financial aid program matter? The effect of state in-kind tuition subsidies.” Review of Economics and Statistics lxxxvi: 767-782. Abstract
This paper examines the importance of format in aid programs, focusing on state appropriations to public postsecondary institutions. These funds subsidize costs for in-state students, but they may also influence choices between institutions due to their in-kind format. Using conditional the logistic choice model and extensive match-specific information, the paper approximates the choice between nearly 2700 college options to examine the effect of several dissimilar state systems. The results suggest that the level and distribution pattern of subsidies strongly affect decisions. If the aid could instead be applied to any in-state college, up to 29% more students would prefer to attend private four-year colleges. Reprinted by permission of the MIT Press
The effects of financial aid policies on the behavior of post-secondary institutions are examined. The results suggest that four-year colleges in Georgia particularly private institutions, responded by increasing student charges and in the most extreme case, colleges recouped approximately 30 percent of the scholarship award.