$6 Can Make A Difference

Career College Central summary:

  • In an era when sticker price at some colleges tops $60,000, it may seem odd to think that $6 could make a difference in students’ decisions about the institutions to which they apply.
  • But $6 could in fact make all the difference, suggests a study released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study adds yet more evidence to the theory of “undermatching” – namely that significant numbers of low-income, high talent students are not applying to as many colleges, or colleges that are as competitive, as would benefit them.
  • Amanda Pallais, assistant professor of economics and social studies at Harvard University, studied the impact of a 1997 shift by ACT, which that year increased from three to four the number of score reports a student could send out to colleges without paying an additional fee. Before 1997, those who wanted to send four or more reports paid $6 per additional report.
  • Pallais found that, prior to 1997, over 80 percent of ACT takers sent exactly three score reports, and only 5 percent sent four. Immediately after the change was adopted, the percentage of students sending four reports rose to 75 percent while those sending three dropped to 10 percent. (The SAT already offered four reports and did not see a similar shift that year.)

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