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The costs and benefits of enrolling in an academically matched college

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  • Howell, Jessica S.
  • Pender, Matea

Abstract

In response to increased efforts to raise college completion rates through improved academic match between students and their colleges, we examine the costs and benefits to students of following such advice as well as the impact on postsecondary institutions. We analyze data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, the College Board, the National Student Clearinghouse, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System to estimate the impact of improved academic match on students’ predicted net price and bachelor's completion probabilities. The results indicate that undermatching low-income students across the distribution of academic ability would experience a substantial boost in bachelor's degree completion probability – 13.5% points, on average – if they attended a college that better matched their academic credentials. Given this average effect and the number of undermatched low-income students who are minimally “treated” under our simulation, we predict that an additional 3500 low-income students per cohort would complete a bachelor's degree. We find that moving all undermatched low-income students into “safety” colleges would not overly burden this set of institutions, which, on average, would only need to increase the size of first-year cohorts by less than 1%. Moreover, such colleges would experience no change in average SAT scores and overall graduation rates. One estimate of the financial impact on colleges is substantial (i.e., on average, $6.5 M–7.5 M annually per cohort per institution that has a simulated net gain in enrollment) if institutions cover full tuition and fees for these additional low-income students.

Suggested Citation

  • Howell, Jessica S. & Pender, Matea, 2016. "The costs and benefits of enrolling in an academically matched college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 152-168.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:51:y:2016:i:c:p:152-168
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2015.06.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    9. Caroline Hoxby & Christopher Avery, 2013. "The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(1 (Spring), pages 1-65.
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    Cited by:

    1. Page, Lindsay C. & Scott-Clayton, Judith, 2016. "Improving college access in the United States: Barriers and policy responses," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 4-22.
    2. Tamara Linkow & Amanda Parsad & Alina Martinez & Hannah Miller, "undated". "Study of Enhanced College Advising in Upward Bound: Impacts on Where and How Long Students Attend College," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 3d7ea66734974a83b402c4cf5, Mathematica Policy Research.
    3. Georg Graetz & Björn Öckert & Oskar Nordström Skans, 2020. "Family Background and the Responses to Higher SAT Scores," CESifo Working Paper Series 8362, CESifo.
    4. Iriti, Jennifer & Page, Lindsay C. & Bickel, William E., 2018. "Place-based scholarships: Catalysts for systems reform to improve postsecondary attainment," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 137-148.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    College choice; College cost; College completion; Low-income students;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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