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Family Income and Higher Education Choices: The Importance of Accounting for College Quality

Josh Kinsler and Ronni Pavan

Journal of Human Capital, 2011, vol. 5, issue 4, 453 - 477

Abstract: In the examination of the determinants of educational choices, little attention has been devoted to the relationship between family income and the quality of higher education. Using the 1979 and 1997 waves of the NLSY, we show that family income significantly affects the quality of higher education, especially for high-ability individuals.While the impact of family income on college quality is significant in both samples, it has declined considerably over time for high-ability students. Overall, the trends we observe are highly consistent with increases in tuition across the quality spectrum, coupled with more generous merit-based aid at high-quality institutions.

Date: 2011
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