We conduct an information experiment about college returns and costs embedded within a representative survey of US household heads. Baseline perceptions of college costs and benefits are substantially biased, with larger biases among lower-income and non-college households. Respondents are randomly exposed to objective information about average college “returns” or costs. We find a significant impact of the “returns” experiment, persisting in a follow-up survey two months later: intended college attendance expectations increase by about 0.2 of the standard deviation in the baseline likelihood, and gaps by household income or parents’ education decline by 20–30%. We find no impact of the cost information treatment. Further analysis supports the information's salience, as opposed to information-based updating, as the main channel through which the returns intervention impacts intentions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Economics and Econometrics
- College enrollment
- College returns and costs
- Subjective expectations