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Hard Cash and Soft Skills: Experimental Evidence on Combining Scholarships and Mentoring in Argentina
Last registered on August 22, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Hard Cash and Soft Skills: Experimental Evidence on Combining Scholarships and Mentoring in Argentina
Initial registration date
August 22, 2018
Last updated
August 22, 2018 3:24 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
New York University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Proyecto Educar 2050
PI Affiliation
Inter-American Development Bank
PI Affiliation
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Many developing countries offer cash to low-income families to encourage children to attend school. These initiatives have increased educational attainment, but they have rarely improved student achievement. One potential reason may be that beneficiaries may need additional support to develop the requisite “soft” skills to succeed in school. We conducted a three-year randomized evaluation of a program that provides secondary school students with scholarships and non-academic mentoring in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Barrera-Osorio, Felipe et al. 2018. "Hard Cash and Soft Skills: Experimental Evidence on Combining Scholarships and Mentoring in Argentina." AEA RCT Registry. August 22. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3258-2.0.
Former Citation
Barrera-Osorio, Felipe et al. 2018. "Hard Cash and Soft Skills: Experimental Evidence on Combining Scholarships and Mentoring in Argentina." AEA RCT Registry. August 22. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3258/history/33373.
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Experimental Details
The Scholarship and Mentoring Program (SMP) that we evaluate in this study provides a scholarship and a non-academic mentoring session each month to secondary school students throughout the academic year. It run by one of the largest education non-profits in Argentina. It is the longest-standing program of its kind in the country: it has been in place since 1997. It is also the largest such program run by a non-profit in Argentina: in 2015, it reached 2,544 students across 16 of the 24 provinces of the country.

Typically, students are invited to apply to the program in their last year of secondary school (grade 7). Representatives from the non-profit interview all applicants (with their parents) and select which students will be invited to join. If students are admitted, they can remain in the program from the first (grade 8) to the last grade (grade 12) of secondary school, provided that they comply with three requirements: (a) they remain enrolled in a program-affiliated school; (b) they do not repeat grades; and (c) they are not suspended from school. For the purposes of this evaluation, the non-profit agreed to forgo its regular selection process, invite students to apply, and allow us to randomly select those who would be admitted. However, it maintained its three requirements for students to remain in the program.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Academic behaviors; Academic mindsets, perseverance, and learning strategies; School performance; Student achievement; Personality traits
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We invited 10 public secondary schools in the PBA to participate in the study based on three criteria set out by the non-profit: (a) they had to serve students from low-income families (because this is the target demographic of the program); (b) they had to have previously participated in the SMP (because it was preferable that they were familiar with the requirements of the program); and (c) they could not be participating in the SMP at the time of recruitment (because the non-profit wanted to avoid having students chosen by the regular admission process and by lottery in the same school). A representative from the non-profit met with the principal of each of these schools to invite them to participate the evaluation.

All schools accepted to participate. Each school was located in a different district (localidad) within the PBA, including: Campana, Ensenada, Gregorio de Laferrere, Guernica, José C. Paz, Merlo, Quilmes, Santos Lugares, Virrey del Pino, and Zárate.

We invited a random subset of grade 7 students at each school to participate in the study. We randomly selected two grade 7 sections per school, the non-profit sent the parents of these students invitations to attend a recruiting session, and representatives from the non-profit held multiple sessions at each school to accommodate parents' scheduling needs. Then, a representative from the non-profit met with all interested parents and their children to explain the requirements of the program and the evaluation and collect their baseline data. This process resulted in 408 interested students who were entered into a lottery roster. The number of available spots at each school was determined by the amount of funds that the non-profit had raised to cover the costs of the program at that school.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
We randomly assigned students in the lottery roster to a treatment group, which was offered the program, or to a control group, which was not offered the program. This lottery resulted in 204 students in each group. As it is typically the case with the program, the offer of the program allowed students to potentially remain in the program until they graduated from high school, provided that they complied with the program's requirements.
Randomization Unit
Students, clustered within schools
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
10 clusters (schools)
Sample size: planned number of observations
408 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
204 students in each experimental group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)