NBER

Katherine Michelmore

Syracuse University
Center for Policy Research
426 Eggers Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Syracuse University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2018Closing the Gap: The Effect of a Targeted, Tuition-Free Promise on College Choices of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students
with Susan Dynarski, C.J. Libassi, Stephanie Owen: w25349
High-achieving, low-income students attend selective colleges at far lower rates than upper-income students with similar achievement. Behavioral biases, intensified by complexity and uncertainty in the admissions and aid process, may explain this gap. In a large-scale experiment we test an early commitment of free tuition at a flagship university. The intervention did not increase aid: rather, students were guaranteed before application the same grant aid that they would qualify for in expectation after admission. The offer substantially increased application (68 percent vs 26 percent) and enrollment rates (27 percent vs 12 percent). The results suggest that uncertainty, present bias, and loss aversion loom large in students’ college decisions.
July 2016The Gap within the Gap: Using Longitudinal Data to Understand Income Differences in Student Achievement
with Susan Dynarski: w22474
Gaps in educational achievement between high- and low-income children are growing. Administrative datasets maintained by states and districts lack information about income but do indicate whether a student is eligible for subsidized school meals. We leverage the longitudinal structure of these datasets to develop a new measure of persistent economic disadvantage. Half of 8th graders in Michigan are eligible for a subsidized meal, but just 14 percent have been eligible for subsidized meals in every grade since kindergarten. These children score 0.94 standard deviations below those never eligible for subsidies and 0.23 below those occasionally eligible. There is a negative, linear relationship between grades spent in economic disadvantage and 8th grade test scores. This is not an exposure ef...

Published: Katherine Michelmore & Susan Dynarski, 2017. "The Gap Within the Gap," AERA Open, vol 3(1).

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