The Determinants of Mismatch Between Students and Colleges
We use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 cohort to examine mismatch between student ability and college quality. Mismatch has implications for the design of state higher education systems and for student aid policy. The data indicate substantial amounts of both undermatch (high ability students at low quality colleges) and overmatch (low ability students at high quality colleges). Student application and enrollment decisions, rather than college admission decisions, drive most mismatch. Financial constraints, information, and the public college options facing each student all affect the probability of mismatch. More informed students attend higher quality colleges, even when doing so involves overmatching.
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A data appendix is available at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w19286
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19286
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