Informing Students about Their College Options: A Proposal for Broadening the Expanding College Opportunities Project

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The Hamilton Project


Most high-achieving, low-income students do not even apply to selective colleges despite being highly qualified for admission and success at these institutions. Because they do not apply, these students forgo the generous academic resources, increased financial aid, and better collegiate and career opportunities that selective schools offer. To increase opportunities and improve outcomes for these students, the authors propose building on the success of an innovative intervention, the Expanding College Opportunities (ECO) Project. The intervention had a profound effect on their college application behavior, leading to a substantial increase in their propensity to apply to more-selective colleges commensurate with their academic achievements. This paper proposes steps to expand and improve ECO to reach more low-income, high-achieving students across the country by partnering with respected third-party organizations such as the College Board and ACT. ECO can also serve as a model for designing and applying this type of intervention to other populations of students. The success of the ECO Project highlights the importance of researchers being able to access relevant government data to design targeted and effective programs and policies.



low-income students, selective colleges and universities, barriers to entry (Postsecondary education), discrimination in higher education