What Works to Reduce Inequalities in Higher Education?: A Systematic Review of the (Quasi-)Experimental Literature on Outreach and Financial Aid

The paper reviews 75 studies and rigorously compares more than 200 causal effects of outreach and financial aid interventions on the access and completion rates of disadvantaged students in higher education.

The paper finds that outreach policies are broadly effective in increasing access for disadvantaged students when these policies include active counseling or simplify the university application process, but not when they only provide general information on higher education. For financial aid, the paper finds that need-based grants do not systematically increase enrollment rates but only lead to improvements when they provide enough money to cover unmet need and/or include an early commitment during high school.