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Efficient Tuition & Fees, Examinations, and Subsidies

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Gary-Bobo & Alain Trannoy, 2005. "Efficient Tuition & Fees, Examinations, and Subsidies," IDEP Working Papers 0501, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised 01 Mar 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:iep:wpidep:0501
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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. Hugo Harari-Kermadec & David Flacher, 2011. "Tuition fees, self-esteem and social heterogeneity," Post-Print hal-00566151, HAL.
    3. 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.
    4. De Fraja, Gianni & Valbonesi, Paola, 2012. "The design of the university system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 317-330.
    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. 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 (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-24.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tuition Fees; Examinations; State Subsidies; Higher Education; Incomplete Information.;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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