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Improving college access in the United States: Barriers and policy responses

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  • Page, Lindsay C.
  • Scott-Clayton, Judith

Abstract

Socioeconomic gaps in college enrollment and attainment have widened over time, despite increasing returns to postsecondary education and significant policy efforts to improve access. We describe the barriers that students face during the transition to college and review the evidence on potential policy solutions. We focus primarily on research that examines causal relationships using experimental or quasi-experimental methods, though we draw upon descriptive evidence to provide context. Our review is distinctive in three respects. First, in addition to the literature on financial aid, we examine the evidence on informational and behavioral interventions, academic programs, and affirmative action policies intended to improve college access. Second, we incorporate a wealth of recent research not included in prior reviews. Finally, we conceptualize college access broadly, as including not just whether but also where students attend and whether they have access to college-level courses. We conclude with a discussion of implications for policy and research.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:51:y:2016:i:c:p:4-22
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2016.02.009
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    Cited by:

    1. Goodman, Joshua & Gurantz, Oded & Smith, Jonathan, 2018. "Take Two! SAT Retaking and College Enrollment Gaps," Working Paper Series rwp18-031, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    2. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:60:y:2017:i:c:p:1-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:56:y:2018:i:2:p:1220-1243 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Lapid, Patrick A & Douglass, John A, 2016. "College Affordability and the Emergence of Progresssive Tuition Models: Are New Financial Aid Policies at Major Public Universities Working?," University of California at Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher Education qt58n9x18c, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley.
    5. repec:spr:reihed:v:60:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s11162-018-9502-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:labeco:v:47:y:2017:i:c:p:48-63 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:injoed:v:58:y:2018:i:c:p:137-148 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:arp:rjearp:2018:p:195-203 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Susan Dynarski & Judith Scott-Clayton, 2016. "Tax Benefits for College Attendance," NBER Working Papers 22127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:67:y:2018:i:c:p:148-157 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    College access; Financial aid; Informational and behavioral barriers; Affirmative action; Experimental and quasi-experimental evidence;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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