Study Abroad Participation: An Unintended Consequence of State Merit-Aid Programs?

  • Melissa WhatleyEmail author


This study employs difference-in-differences estimation to explore the relationship between the implementation of state merit-aid programs and students’ participation in study abroad. The relationship between implementation of these financial aid programs and study abroad participation has not been tested explicitly in prior policy or education abroad literatures. While state merit-aid programs provide students with additional economic capital that might allow them to participate in educational opportunities such as study abroad, other aspects of merit-aid programs could discourage such engagement. Indeed, analyses of a panel dataset consisting of information from all 50 states suggested either no relationship between the implementation of merit-aid programs and study abroad or a situation wherein merit-aid implementation tempers students’ desires or abilities to study abroad. These findings may be the result of certain characteristics of merit-aid policies, such as a cap on the number of credit hours for which scholarship funds can be awarded or satisfactory academic progress requirements, and have important implications for state policy-makers and institutional actors. This study highlights several directions for future research on the relationship between state-level merit-aid programs and undergraduate participation in education abroad.


Study abroad State merit aid Financial aid State policy 



The author thanks Manuel González Canché, Erik Ness, Amy Stich, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Higher Education, Meigs HallUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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