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The effects of default choice on student loan borrowing: Experimental evidence from a public research university

We explore the role of defaults and choice architecture on student loan decision-making, experimentally testing the impact pre-populating either decline or accept decisions compared to an active choice, no pre-population, decision. We demonstrate that the default choice presented does influence student loan borrowing decisions. Specifically, compared to active choice, students presented within a pre-populated decline decision were almost five percent less likely to accept all packaged loans and borrowed between 4.6 and 4.8 percent less in federal educational loans. The reductions in borrowing appears to be concentrated within unsubsidized loans with those assigned to the opt-in condition borrowing 8.3 percent less in unsubsidized loans. These changes in borrowing did not induce substitution towards private or Parent PLUS loans nor did they negatively impact enrollment, academic performance, or on-campus work outcomes in the same academic year.

Keywords
Financial aid, student loans, experimental design
Education level
Topics
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/xn3f-7n92

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Kramer II, Dennis A., Christina Lamb, and Lindsay C. Page. (). The effects of default choice on student loan borrowing: Experimental evidence from a public research university. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-382). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/xn3f-7n92

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