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TRACING THE EFFECTS OF GUARANTEED ADMISSION THROUGH THE COLLEGE PROCESS: EVIDENCE FROM A POLICY DISCONTINUITY IN THE TEXAS 10% PLAN

Authors

  • JASON M. FLETCHER,

    1. Fletcher: Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale University, New Haven O6520, CT. Phone 203-785-5760, Fax 203-785-6287, E-mail jason.fletcher@ yale.edu
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  • ADALBERT MAYER

    1. Mayer: Department of Economics, Washington College, Chestertown, MD 21620. Phone 410-778-7709, Fax 410-810-7132, E-mail amayer2@washcoll.edu
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    • We thank Rodney Andrews, Dawn Koffman, Lance Lochner, Mark Long, Sunny Niu, Steven Puller, Marta Tienda, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. This research uses data from the Texas Higher Education Opportunity Project (THEOP) and acknowledges the following agencies that made THEOP data available through grants and support: Ford Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Spencer Foundation, National Science Foundation (NSF Grant # SES-0350990), The National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD Grant # R24 H0047879), and The Office of Population Research at Princeton University.


Abstract

The Texas 10% law states that students who graduated among the top 10% of their high school class are guaranteed admission to public universities in Texas. We estimate the causal effects of this admissions guarantee on a sequence of connected decisions: students' application behavior, admission decisions by the university, students' enrollment choices conditional on admission; as well as the resulting college achievement. We identify these effects by comparing students just above and just below the top 10% rank cut off. We assume that other student characteristics and incentives are continuous at this cut off. We find that students react to incentives created by the admissions guarantee—for example, by reducing applications to competing private universities. The effects of the admissions guarantee depend on the university and the type of students it attracts. The 10% law is binding and alters the decisions of the admissions committees. We find little evidence that the law increases diversity or leads to meaningful mismatch for the marginal student admitted. (JEL I23, I28)

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