We ran a blog post a while back about how alumni should think about giving money to their alma maters. A recent NBER paper (abstract; PDF) by Jonathan Meer and Harvey S. Rosen looks at the “donative behaviour” of alumni who received financial aid. It has some really interesting conclusions:
The empirical work is based upon micro data on alumni giving at an anonymous research university. We focus on three types of financial aid, scholarships, loans, and campus jobs. …
Our main findings are: 1) Individuals who took out student loans are less likely to make a gift, other things being the same. We conjecture that this phenomenon is caused by an “annoyance effect” —
alumni resent the fact that they are burdened with loans. 2) Scholarship aid reduces the size of a gift, but has little effect on the probability of donating. The negative effect of receiving a scholarship on donations decreases in absolute value with the size of the scholarship. We do not find any evidence that scholarship recipients give less because they have relatively low incomes post graduation. 3) Aid in the form of campus jobs does not have a strong effect on donative behavior.