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The Importance of Social Factors in Student-College Match

In a new NBER working paper released this month, economists from the University of Texas and Texas A&M scrutinize some of the factors motivating racial and ethnic differences in college application choices, using data from the entire population of high school graduates in Texas over the past two years. In disaggregating rather than lumping together minorities (as some other studies do), the authors find that Hispanic students are in particular less likely to apply to any college, even after controlling for college readiness and high school quality. Three of the factors that seem to be most important when it comes…


Earning College Credit Before College
A Worthwhile Investment

As college costs rise and student success rates stagnate, states and institutions of higher education have grappled with creative ways to improve student outcomes – particularly for those who are traditionally underserved. Recently, policymakers have increasingly turned to programs that target students even before they enroll full time in college, by implementing and expanding dual enrollment options that allow students to earn college credit while in high school. In theory, dual enrollment programs (along with programs like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate) benefit students in at least two crucial ways. First, by getting college credits out of the way inexpensively…


Cause and Effect in Virginia Higher Education

In a recent report, we described changes in student-level net costs at Virginia’s public colleges and universities and their effects on student outcomes, particularly for the poorest individuals. In our most robust analysis, for example, we found that a $400 decrease in net cost for Pell-eligible students caused a 5.9-percentage-point increase in the rate at which those students stayed for a second year of college. I use the word “caused” carefully – in the social sciences, to say that one thing causes another requires a methodology that rules out other possible causes. Many researchers, because of data limitations, cannot make…