Access to Four-Year Public Colleges and Degree Completion

43 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2015

See all articles by Joshua Goodman

Joshua Goodman

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Michael Hurwitz

College Board

Jonathan Smith

Georgia State University

Date Written: February 2015

Abstract

Does access to four-year colleges affect degree completion for students who would otherwise attend two-year colleges? Admission to Georgia’s four-year public sector requires minimum SAT scores. Regression discontinuity estimates show that access to this sector increases four-year college enrollment and college quality, largely by diverting students from two-year colleges. Access substantially increases bachelor’s degree completion rates for these relatively low-skilled students. SAT retaking behavior suggests students value access to four-year public colleges, though perhaps less than they should. Our results imply that absolute college quality matters more than match quality and suggest potential unintended consequences of free community college proposals.

Suggested Citation

Goodman, Joshua and Hurwitz, Michael and Smith, Jonathan, Access to Four-Year Public Colleges and Degree Completion (February 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20996. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2572154

Joshua Goodman (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/about/faculty-staff-directory/joshua-goodman/

Michael Hurwitz

College Board ( email )

1919 M Street NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Jonathan Smith

Georgia State University ( email )

GA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/jonathansmithphd/

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