Student Loan Choice Overload
35 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2019 Last revised: 14 Oct 2021
Date Written: May 2019
What influences college student borrowing? In a field experiment with a large community college, we send emails about federal student loans to students who have received information about financial aid but have not made a borrowing decision. A treatment reminding students that they need not borrow the maximum amount of available loan aid does not affect borrowing. Treatments referencing amounts borrowed by recent graduates shift students from borrowing the maximum amount to not borrowing. Consistent with the hypothesis that students experience choice overload when observing multiple dollar amounts, the response is largest among low-performing students and arises from inaction.
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