Programs meant to keep high-achievers close to home by providing scholarships to in-state public universities reduce students’ chances of graduating on time, according to a study released today by researchers at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, says the Hechinger Report. The study’s authors examined a Massachusetts program launched in 2004 by then-Gov. Mitt Romney that waives tuition for top students who agree to attend in-state public colleges or universities. They found that, while the program has accomplished its goal of keeping more of these students enrolled in Massachusetts, the students’ probability of graduating on time was 40 percent lower than if they’d attended higher-quality private institutions.

“Our working hypothesis is that these kids are giving up opportunities to go to campuses that are more competitive and much better resourced than the public system is,” said Joshua Goodman, an assistant professor of public policy at the Kennedy School and coauthor of the study.

The result, he said, is that the students vie for limited faculty time and often can’t get into courses they need to graduate within four years of enrolling…

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