Student Responsiveness to Earnings Data in the College Scorecard

50 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2016 Last revised: 29 Sep 2017

See all articles by Michael Hurwitz

Michael Hurwitz

College Board

Jonathan Smith

Advocacy and Policy Center - College Board

Date Written: September 1, 2017


Using the universe of SAT score sends to colleges and the exact date on which these scores are sent, we estimate how students responded to the release of the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard in September 2015. We find that data on annual cost and graduation rate, both of which were previously available, did not impact the volume of score sends received by colleges. By contrast, we estimate that each 10 percent increase in reported earnings resulted in a 2.4 percent increase in score sends. The impact is driven almost entirely by well-resourced high schools and students. We find little evidence that the count or composition of enrolled students changed as a result of the Scorecard information shock with the exception of a slight increase in academic preparedness, as measured by SAT scores, among enrollees at colleges with higher reported earnings.

Keywords: College Applications, School Accountability, Quality Disclosure, College Scorecard

Suggested Citation

Hurwitz, Michael and Smith, Jonathan, Student Responsiveness to Earnings Data in the College Scorecard (September 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Michael Hurwitz

College Board ( email )

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Jonathan Smith (Contact Author)

Advocacy and Policy Center - College Board ( email )

United States

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