It’s one thing to entice promising students to stay in Massachusetts by giving them free tuition at state colleges. But making sure those colleges serve them well is a much harder problem. The Commonwealth has yet to solve that problem, and the deficiencies of a popular scholarship program point to the enormous challenges facing public higher education in Massachusetts.
In theory, who could find fault with the Adams Scholarship program, which waives tuition at in-state public colleges for students who do well on the state-mandated MCAS test? But according to new research by Sarah Cohodes and my colleague Joshua Goodman, Adams Scholarship winners go to less-competitive colleges, with lower average SAT scores, than they might otherwise have attended. Worse yet, they don’t save much money.