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The effects of the tax deduction for postsecondary tuition: Implications for structuring tax-based aid

Caroline Hoxby and George Bulman ()

Economics of Education Review, 2016, vol. 51, issue C, 23-60

Abstract: The tax deduction for tuition potentially increases investments in education at minimal administrative cost. We assess whether it actually does this using regression discontinuity on the income cutoffs that govern eligibility. Although many eligible households take the maximum, we find no evidence that it affects attending college, attending full-time, attending four-year college, the resources experienced, the amount paid, or student loans. Our analysis suggests that the deduction's inefficacy may be due to salience, timing, and the method of receipt. We argue that the deduction might increase college-going if it were modified in simple ways that would not increase potential costs but would make it more likely to relax liquidity constraints and be perceived as a price change (which it is) as opposed to an income change. We find that households who would be just above a cut-off manage their incomes to fall slightly below it. Such income management generates bias due to reverse causality. We choose optimal “doughnut-holes” that trade-off bias and statistical power.

Keywords: Educational finance; Rate of return; State and Federal Aid; Tax deduction; Tuition; College; Liquidity constraints; Salience; Regression discontinuity; Doughnut-hole (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H2 H24 I22 I23 I26 I28 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Working Paper: The Effects of the Tax Deduction for Postsecondary Tuition: Implications for Structuring Tax-Based Aid (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: The Effects of the Tax Deduction for Postsecondary Tuition: Implications for Structuring Tax-Based Aid (2015) Downloads
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