An Open Path to the Future: Perceived Financial Resources and School Motivation

Mesmin Destin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


One contributing factor to gaps in academic achievement may be that some students perceive long-term educational goals, such as college, as financially out of reach, which can make schoolwork feel meaningless even several years before college. However, information that leads students to perceive that the financial path to college is open for them (i.e., need-based financial aid) can increase school motivation. Two classroom-based field experiments expand this area of theory and research. Early adolescent students who were randomly assigned to receive information about need-based financial aid (open path condition) showed greater school motivation than those who were randomly assigned to a control condition, specifically if they came from low-asset households. In a second exploratory experiment, the open path effect was mediated by an increased likelihood that students envision a future career that includes college (education-dependent identity). Implications for the study of identity and disparities in academic achievement are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1004-1031
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • assets
  • identity
  • school motivation
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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