Local-level, place-based scholarships: a review of the literature


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Local-level, place-based scholarships – synonymous with “promise” scholarships – are a policy strategy to improve college completion in the United States by directing financial aid to students in a particular school, district, or geographical area. There are currently upwards of 90 place-based scholarship programs across the US, most of which share three broad goals: to increase postsecondary access by making college more affordable, to build a college-going culture, and to catalyse economic development by drawing middle- and upper-class families to an area and retaining existing residents. As place-based scholarships grow in popularity and more communities, especially ones seeking economic revitalisation, consider investing resources in their own scholarships, there is interest in what impact, if any, these programs have. This paper reviews the research on place-based scholarships, which demonstrates generally positive effects on district enrolment, postsecondary enrolment and persistence, and housing prices. While there is some evidence of improvement in teacher expectations and school climate, the scholarships have not been associated with fundamental changes inside schools. Although most programs have not been empirically studied, the 33 studies included in this review indicate that place-based scholarships have the potential to foster change within school districts and struggling cities and promote positive student outcomes.

Fahs-Beck Scholars

Meet the Scholars

Fahs-Beck Fellows

Meet the Fellows


Our grant programs are changing.


Learn more