August 2016

IZA DP No. 10150: Match or Mismatch? Automatic Admissions and College Preferences of Low- and High-Income Students

forthcoming in: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis

We examine the role of information in the college matching behavior of low- and high-income students, exploiting a state automatic admissions policy that provides some students with perfect a priori certainty of college admissions. We find that admissions certainty encourages college-ready low-income students to seek more rigorous universities. Low-income students who are less college-ready are not influenced by admissions certainty and are sensitive to college entrance exams scores. Most students also prefer campuses with students of similar race, income, and high school class rank, but only highly-qualified low-income students choose institutions where they have fewer same-race and same-income peers.