by Caroline Hoxby, Sarah Turner
October 02, 2013
The vast majority of even very high achieving students from low-income families do not apply to a single selective college or university. We designed an experiment to test whether some high-achieving, low-income students would change their behavior if they knew more about colleges and, more importantly, whether we can construct a cost-effective way to help such students realize their full array of college opportunities. The Expanding College Opportunities-Comprehensive (ECO-C) Intervention costs just $6 per student, yet we find that it causes high-achieving, low-income students to apply and be admitted to more colleges. ECO-C Intervention is likely a much more cost-effective means of changing students’ college-going behavior than reducing the cost of college through tuition reductions, grants, and other forms of aid, while the return to high-cost interventions such as expanding the Pell grant program is likely to be very limited unless students possess sufficient information about college alternatives.