Changes in Postsecondary Choices by Ability and Income: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth
We characterize changes over time in the choices high school graduates make concerning 2-year attendance, 4-year attendance, and college nonattendance across the joint income and ability distribution. We find that college nonattendance decreased substantially between cohorts for both men and women and that these declines were larger for higher-ability students. On the 2-year/4-year margin, there is evidence of growing ability constraints among women. Furthermore, income has become more important among higher-ability men, and increases in 2-year attendance among high-ability but low-income men come at the expense of 4-year college enrollment. State-level college costs explain little of the changes we document.
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