Tim Zeidner, Vanderbilt University
Abstract: The purpose of this research is to determine the impact of informational help on a student's probability of attending college, conditioned on a student's academic and financial preparedness as well as a student's aspirations. Information about how much college costs and whether the student can afford college and information regarding how a student needs to be academically prepared to attend college arguably plays a role throughout the college decision-making process. Empirical research on the impact of information within the postsecondary access picture is minimal, partly due to the lack of data that either identifies information as a variable or that is able to be operationalized in a framework that is indicative of the postsecondary decision-making process. The importance of this research lies in using the best available longitudinal data (NELS: 88-94) to identify if the acquisition of information with regards to academic and financial aid preparation reveals a meaningful influence on the probability of a student accessing varying levels of postsecondary education. Furthermore, this research identifies some potential challenges using secondary data (namely issues of causality and dealing with potential endogeneity), and identifies possible techniques that may mitigate these concerns.