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Tuition Exchange


Author Info

  • Umut Mert Dur

    (University of Texas at Austin)

  • M. Utku Ünver

    (Boston College)


We introduce a new class of matching problems that mimics the tuition exchange programs employed by colleges in the US to enable the dependents of their eligible faculty to use their tuition benefits at other participating institutions. Each participating college has to maintain a balance between exported and imported students; a negative balance with exports exceeding imports is generally penalized by suspension from the program. On the other hand, these programs function through decentralized markets that make it difficult to sustain a balance. We show that any unbalanced market equilibrium respecting stability causes a race to the bottom by discouraging negative–balance colleges from exchange. To correct this failure, we propose a new centralized mechanism, two–sided top trading cycles (2S-TTC), a variant of the well–known TTC mechanism. This is the first time a one–sided matching mechanism has been modified for a two–sided market. This mechanism selects a balanced–efficient matching that cannot be manipulated by students and it respects internal priority bylaws of colleges regarding dependent eligibility. Moreover, it makes full participation a dominant strategy for colleges, thus encouraging exchange. We also show that 2S-TTC is the unique optimal mechanism fulfilling these objectives. There also exist tuition co-ops where maintaining a one–to–one balance is not the first objective. For these programs, to minimize imbalance while respecting stability, we also propose a new flexible mechanism with desirable properties.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 815.

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Date of creation: 25 Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:815

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Related research

Keywords: Market Design; Matching Theory; Tuition Exchange; Balanced Exchange; Two–sided Matching; Two–sided Top Trading Cycles;

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  1. Kesten, Onur, 2006. "On two competing mechanisms for priority-based allocation problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 155-171, March.
  2. Ma, Jinpeng, 1994. "Strategy-Proofness and the Strict Core in a Market with Indivisibilities," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 75-83.
  3. Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "House Allocation with Existing Tenants," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 233-260, October.
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