Research Library


We examine the role of information in college matching behavior of low- and high-income students, exploiting a state automatic admissions policy that provides some students with perfect a priori certainty of college admissions. We find that admissions certainty encourages college-ready low-income students to seek more rigorous universities. However, low-income students who are less college ready are not influenced by admissions certainty and are more sensitive to college entrance exams scores. Most students also prefer campuses with students of similar demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Only highly qualified, low-income students choose institutions where they have fewer same-race and same-income peers. These results suggest that automatic admission policies can reduce income-based inequities in college quality by encouraging low-income students who are highly qualified for college to seek out better matched institutions.