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Expanding College Opportunities for High-Achieving, Low Income Students

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  • Caroline Hoxby

    ()
    (Stanford Institute of Economy Policy Research)

  • Sarah Turner

    ()
    (University of Virginia)

Abstract

Only a minority of high-achieving, low-income students apply to colleges in the same way that other high-achieving students do: applying to several selective colleges whose curriculum is designed for students with a level of achievement like their own. This is despite the fact that selective colleges typically cost them high-achieving, low-income students less while offering them more generous resources than the non-selective postsecondary institutions they mainly attend. In previous work, we demonstrate that the vast majority of high-achieving, low-income students are unlikely to be reached by traditional methods of informing students about their college opportunities since such methods require the students to be concentrated geographically. In this study, we use a randomized controlled trial to evaluate interventions that provide students with semicustomized information on the application process and colleges' net costs. The interventions also provide students with no-paperwork application fee waivers. The ECO Comprehensive (ECO-C) Intervention costs about $6 per student, and we find that it causes high-achieving, low-income students to apply and be admitted to more colleges, especially those with high graduation rates and generous instructional resources. The students respond to their enlarged opportunity sets by enrolling in colleges that have stronger academic records, higher graduation rates, and more generous resources. Their freshman grades are as good as the control students', despite the fact that the control students attend less selective colleges and therefore compete with peers whose incoming preparation is substantially inferior. Benefit-to-cost ratios for the ECO-C Intervention are extremely high, even under the most conservative assumptions. Creation Date:2013-03

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 12-014.

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Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:12-014

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  1. Christopher Avery & Caroline M. Hoxby, 2003. "Do and Should Financial Aid Packages Affect Students' College Choices?," NBER Working Papers 9482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mark Hoekstra, 2009. "The Effect of Attending the Flagship State University on Earnings: A Discontinuity-Based Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(4), pages 717-724, November.
  3. Christopher Avery & Thomas J. Kane, 2004. "Student Perceptions of College Opportunities. The Boston COACH Program," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 355-394 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Smith, Jonathan & Pender, Matea & Howell, Jessica, 2013. "The full extent of student-college academic undermatch," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 247-261.
  5. Christopher Avery & Sarah Turner, 2012. "Student Loans: Do College Students Borrow Too Much--Or Not Enough?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 165-92, Winter.
  6. Christopher Avery & Caroline Hoxby & Clement Jackson & Kaitlin Burek & Glenn Pope & Mridula Raman, 2006. "Cost Should Be No Barrier: An Evaluation of the First Year of Harvard's Financial Aid Initiative," NBER Working Papers 12029, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Katja Maria Kaufmann & Matthias Messner & Alex Solis, 2013. "Returns to Elite Higher Education in the Marriage Market: Evidence from Chile," Working Papers 489, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  8. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2006. "Estimating the Returns to College Quality with Multiple Proxies for Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 701-728, July.
  9. Pallais, Amanda & Turner, Sarah, 2006. "Opportunities for Low–Income Students at Top Colleges and Universities: Policy Initiatives and the Distribution of Students," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(2), pages 357-86, June.
  10. Christopher Avery, 2010. "The Effects of College Counseling on High-Achieving, Low-Income Students," NBER Working Papers 16359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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