Since its inception in 1993, Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship has changed the way Georgia students plan for college. A new study aims to find out if it’s changed their career paths after graduation as well.
Researchers from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, Georgia State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology were awarded a $400,000 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation 2022 Knowledge Challenge Grant to study the relationship between merit-based scholarship receipt and highly valued entrepreneurship career paths.
The three-year project, led by the interdisciplinary project team of Ross Rubenstein from Georgia State, Susan Cohen from UGA and Paige Clayton from Georgia Tech, seeks to understand whether Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship increases the rate of new business formation in Georgia and whether the merit-based HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships influence entrepreneurial activity differently across student groups, communities and geographic regions, such as rural vs. urban.
The team will gain critical context by working with the Georgia Policy Labs, a research-practice partnership to improve outcomes for students and families. The Georgia Policy Labs relies on expertise from its partners, including the University System of Georgia, to ensure researchers understand the programs, initiatives and contextual factors that are often invisible in data. The partnership ensures insights are actionable to improve policies and programs.
“Entrepreneurship can be a key driver of regional economic growth, but student debt can prevent would-be entrepreneurs from launching new businesses,” said Cohen, an assistant professor in management at Terry who studies the drivers of entrepreneurship. “Our research team is grateful to receive funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Knowledge Challenge to explore how the Hope Scholarship may influence entrepreneurship across the state of Georgia. We hope our research will provide evidence that can inform policy in Georgia and other states looking to spark entrepreneurial activity.”
The grant was one of 15 Knowledge Challenge Grants awarded this year. The private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Mo., seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development.
“The research projects selected for this portfolio all look toward the future and will help us better understand the systems and structures needed to support inclusive prosperity,” said Jessica Looze, director of knowledge creation and research for the Kauffman Foundation.
(Jennifer French Giarratano is public relations manager at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.)