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Efficient Tuition & Fees, Examinations and Subsidies

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  • Gary-Bobo, Robert J.
  • Trannoy, Alain

Abstract

A student's future log-wage is given by the sum of a skill premium and a random personal ‘ability’ term. Students observe only a private, noisy signal of their ability, and universities can condition admission decisions on the results of noisy tests. We assume first that universities are maximizing social surplus, and contrast the results with those obtained when they maximize rents. If capital markets are perfect, and if test results are public knowledge, then, there is no sorting on the basis of test scores. Students optimally self-select as a result of pricing only. In the absence of externalities generated by an individual's higher education, the optimal tuition is then greater than the university's marginal cost. If capital markets are perfect but asymmetries of information are bilateral, i.e., if universities observe a private signal of each student's ability, or if there are borrowing constraints, then, the optimal policy involves a mix of pricing and pre-entry selection based on the university's private information. Optimal tuition can then be set below marginal cost, and can even become negative, if the precision of the university's private assessment of students' abilities is high enough.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5011.

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Date of creation: Apr 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5011

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Keywords: examinations; higher education; incomplete information; state subsidies; tuition fees;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Tom McKenzie & Dirk Sliwka, 2011. "Universities as Stakeholders in their Students' Careers: On the Benefits of Graduate Taxes to Finance Higher Education," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 167(4), pages 726-742, December.
  2. Gianni De Fraja & Paola Valbonesi, 2009. "The Design of the University System," Discussion Papers in Economics 09/19, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
  3. Beath, John & Poyago-Theotoky, Joanna & Ulph, David, 2012. "University funding systems: Impact on research and teaching," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 6(2), pages 1-24.
  4. del Rey, Elena & Romero, Laura, 2004. "Prices versus Exams as Strategic Instruments for Competing Universities," Working Papers of the Department of Economics, University of Girona 12, Department of Economics, University of Girona.
  5. Alexander Kemnitz, 2007. "University Funding Reform, Competition, and Teaching Quality," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 163(2), pages 356-378, June.
  6. Hugo Harari-Kermadec & David Flacher, 2011. "Tuition fees, self-esteem and social heterogeneity," Post-Print hal-00566151, HAL.

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