U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard
This database provides disclosed financial information of all higher education institutions in the US (e.g., expected cost and expected income after graduation).
- Yoon, H., Yang, Y., & Morewedge, C. K. (2022). Early Cost Realization and College Choice. Journal of Marketing Research, 59(1), 136-152. doi:10.1177/00222437211026337
Student loans defer the cost of college until after graduation, allowing many students access to higher lifetime earnings and colleges and universities they otherwise could not afford. Even with student loans, however, the authors find that students psychologically realize the financial costs of a college education long before their loan repayments begin. This early cost realization frames financial decisions between most pairs of colleges as an intertemporal trade-off. Students choose between investments with (1) smaller short-term costs but smaller long-term returns (a lower-cost, lower-return [LC-LR] college) and (2) larger short-term costs but larger long-term returns (a higher-cost, higher-return [HC-HR] college). The authors find that early cost realization increases preferences for LC-LR colleges—preferences that could reduce lifetime earnings—in both simulations and experiments. Preferences for LC-LR colleges are pronounced among financially impatient students and in choice pairs of LC-LR and HC-HR colleges where the equilibrium is set at a low-discount-rate threshold. A return-on-investment strategy, future uncertainty, and debt aversion cannot explain these results. A decision aid synchronizing the psychological realization of costs and benefits reduced preferences for LC-LR colleges, illustrating that the preference is constructed and receptive to interventions.