The Role of Application Assistance and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block Fafsa Experiment
AbstractGrowing concerns about low awareness and take-up rates for government support programs like college financial aid have spurred calls to simplify the application process and enhance visibility. We present results from a randomized field experiment in which low-income individuals receiving tax preparation help were also offered immediate assistance and a streamlined process to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for themselves or their children. Treated participants were also provided with aid estimates that were compared against tuition cost amounts for nearby colleges. The combined assistance and information treatment substantially increased FAFSA submissions and ultimately the likelihood of college attendance, persistence, and aid receipt. In particular, high school seniors whose parents received the treatment were 8 percentage points more likely to have completed two years of college, going from 28% to 36%, during the first three years following the experiment. Families who received aid information but no assistance with the FAFSA did not experience improved outcomes. The findings suggest many other opportunities for using personal assistance to increase participation in programs that require filling out forms to become eligible. JEL Codes: I2, H4, J24. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.
Volume (Year): 127 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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- I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
- H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
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- Bridget Terry Long, 2014. "The Financial Crisis and College Enrollment: How Have Students and Their Families Responded?," NBER Chapters, in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Borghans, Lex & Golsteyn, Bart H.H. & Stenberg, Anders, 2013. "Does Expert Advice Improve Educational Choice?," IZA Discussion Papers 7649, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Cohodes, Sarah & Goodman, Joshua, 2013. "Merit Aid, College Quality and College Completion: Massachusetts' Adams Scholarship as an In-Kind Subsidy," Working Paper Series rwp13-005, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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