"College on the Cheap: Consequences of Community College Tuition Reductions" Forthcoming, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, May 2017 Online Appendix
This paper examines the effects of community college tuition on college enrollment. I exploit quasi-experimental variation from discounts for community college tuition in Texas that were expanded over time and across geography for identification. Community college enrollment in the first year after high school increased by 5.1 percentage points for each $1,000 decrease in tuition which implies an elasticity of -.29. Lower tuition also increased transfer from community colleges to universities. Marginal community college enrollees induced to attend by reduced tuition have similar graduation rates as average community college enrolleesMedia Coverage: Washington Post
"Was that SMART? Institutional Financial Incentives and Field of Study" with Patrick Turley, Journal of Human Resources, Winter 2017
"Born Under a Lucky Star: Financial Aid, College Completion, Labor Supply, and Credit Constraints" Revise & Resubmit, Journal of Human Resources
"Is Information Enough? Evidence from a Tax Credit Information Experiment with 1,000,000 Students" with Peter Bergman and Dayanand Manoli, Under Review
This study examines the effect of information about tax credits for college using a sample of over 1 million students or prospective students in Texas. We sent emails and letters to students that described tax credits for college and tracked college outcomes. We find that for all three of our samples--already enrolled students, students who had previously applied to college but were not currently enrolled, and rising high school seniors--that information about tax credits for college did not affect reenrollment, application, and enrollment respectively. We test whether effects vary according to information frames and found that no treatment arms changed student outcomes. We discuss reasons why we found no effect and insights into what attributes make low-cost information interventions effective.
Works in Progress
"ProPelled: The Effect of Grants on Graduation and Earnings" with Benjamin Marx and Lesley Turner
We estimate the effect of grant aid on poor students’ college graduation and earnings using administrative data on students attending four-year public colleges in Texas. To identify these effects, we exploit a discontinuity in grant generosity as a function of family income. While eligibility for additional grant aid has small contemporaneous effects on attainment, it significantly increases four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates. Corresponding to the positive impacts on graduation, eligibility generates persistent increases in earnings beginning four years after entry. We project that within ten years, the additional federal income tax revenue generated from eligible students’ earnings gains would be sufficient for the government to fully recoup the cost of the additional grant aid provided to eligible students. We develop a theoretical model to interpret these results and derive welfare implications. While increases in grant generosity would be welfare improving in the setting we examine, our framework can be applied in a variety of other scenarios where welfare implications are less clear-cut.
"College Selectivity and Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from the Texas Ten Percent Plan" with Sandra Black and Jesse Rothstein
"Where Do I Stand? The Impact of Class Rank on Later Life Outcomes" with Richard Murphy and Felix Weinhardt
We use administrative data from Texas to establish the effect of a student's relative rank within their cohort on later life outcomes. We measure a student's rank relative to their cohort in third grade and exploit idiosyncratic variation in their rank of ability within their cohort. We consider outcomes including later performance in school, advanced course taking, high school graduation, college enrollment, and earnings.