Place-based promise scholarships are a relatively recent innovation in the space of college access and success. Although evidence on the impact of some of the earliest place-based scholarships has begun to emerge, the rapid proliferation of promise programs largely has preceded empirical evidence of their impact. We utilize regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences analyses to investigate the causal effect of the Pittsburgh Promise on students’ immediate postsecondary attainment and early college persistence outcomes. Both analytic approaches yield similar conclusions. As a result of Promise eligibility, Pittsburgh Public School graduates are approximately 5 percentage points more likely to enroll in college, particularly four-year institutions; 10 percentage points more likely to select a Pennsylvania institution; and 4 to 7 percentage points more likely to enroll and persist into a second year of postsecondary education. Impacts vary with changes over time in the program structure and opportunities, and are larger for those responsive to the Promise opportunity, as instrumental variable-adjusted results reveal. Although the Pittsburgh Promise represents a sizeable investment, conservative cost–benefit calculations indicate positive returns. Even so, an important question is whether locally funded programs such as the Pittsburgh Promise are economically sustainable in the long run.

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