Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Administrative Burden and College Access: Disentangling Postsecondary Application Behavior at Public Institutions

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Grant Blume, University of Washington
The emergent public management perspective surrounding administrative burden illustrates how application barriers shape the take-up of, and access to, public programs and policies. Moynihan, Herd, and Harvey (2015) define administrative burden, a term introduced by Burden, Canon, Mayer, and Moynihan (2012), as the “costs that individuals experience in their interactions with the state” (p. 45).  In this study I apply this new management perspective to citizens’ pursuit of public postsecondary education by examining the college application process as a case of administrative burden. Based on an argument that submitting an application to a public university is analogous to the take-up of public programs, I explore how counseling services delivered at public high schools, coupled with a legislatively-authorized program to improve these services, ease the administrative burden of applying to public universities.

This study’s research question is: to what extent do publicly-provided services (in the form of high school counselors as front-line workers) and a state-level program (known as "Navigation 101") ease administrative burden on potential resident college applicants and thereby increase residents' application submission rates at public universities? I find that both front-line workers and the program itself have varying effects on easing administrative burden across demographics and the type of public institution to which individuals submit applications. Higher levels of high school counselor FTEs, for example, are positively associated with an increased odds of poor students and nonwhite students submitting applications to a state's comprehensive universities. On the other hand, neither the programmatic intervention nor counselor FTE by itself increases application odds but the interaction between the two is positively associated with an increased odds of submitting an application at particular types of public universities. Through the lens of administrative burden these findings suggest that front-line workers and public programs may shape the take-up of public programs and policies in promising ways that deserve more attention from both scholars interested in how administrative burden shapes take-up and education researchers focused on improving college application rates.