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

Panel: How Information and Admissions Policies Affect College Access and Attendance for Low-Income Students

Thursday, November 12, 2015: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Tuttle North (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Alexandra Resch, Mathematica Policy Research
Panel Chairs:  Alexandra Resch, Mathematica Policy Research
Discussants:  Silvia C. Robles, Harvard University

Social Networks and the College Attendance Decision
Sean C Lewis-Faupel, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Rescuing Low-Income High Ability Students: University Access, Mismatch and Validity
Sebastian Gallegos, University of Chicago, Francisco Meneses, Government of Chile and Dante Contreras, Universidad de Chile

Policymakers and college administrators have struggled with the question of how to ensure that low-income students have access to quality higher education. Hoxby and Avery (2012) highlighted the college application choices of high-achieving, low-income students as one contributor to the underrepresentation of these students in selective colleges. Informational interventions and percent admissions plans (like Texas’s 10% rule) are two policies that have been used to increase opportunities for these students. The three papers in this panel investigate different aspects of how student access to information and admissions policies interact to affect college application and attendance decisions. The first paper uses an experiment to test whether having information on net price and student outcomes changes how high school seniors rank a set of colleges. This paper provides evidence that providing just a few pieces of information to students allows them to more accurately rank colleges in terms of which provide the best “bang for your buck.” The second paper assesses how social networks influence college application and attendance decisions. This paper improves on the previous literature by carefully considering and accounting for the endogeneity of network formation. The final paper uses rich administrative data to assess the effects of a percent plan, finding that the policy studied improved the quality of institution attended by low-income applicants without harming their persistence or graduation outcomes. Together these three papers provide evidence on policy options that could help policymakers improve college access and outcomes for low-income students.
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