Information and the Decision to Attend College: Evidence from the Texas GO Center Project
Cunha, Jesse M.
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Some students who would benefit from college may choose not to attend if they are unaware of all costs and benefits involved. In this case, publically provided information may induce personally optimal attendance decisions, and if such information is cheap enough to provide then government intervention may also be socially optimal. Evidence from the Texas GO Center project suggests that this may indeed be the case. GO Centers are novel high-school information and awareness centers, usually a dedicated classroom, that provide many traditional guidance counseling services with the exception that they are run by student peers. They target academically prepared students who might not otherwise choose to attend college, providing motivation and information on all aspects of the college-going process. We use the roll-out of the program to identify its impact, along with detailed panel data on the University of Texas public school students. The program significantly increased college applications which led to increased enrollment rates, especially amongst Hispanic and low-income students. One-year college persistence rates also increased significantly. These results have important policy implications, suggesting that a relatively cheap intervention can induce meaningful increases in human capital by reducing informational asymmetries.
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