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Kevin J. Mumford

Kevin J. Mumford, Richard W. Patterson, Anthony Yim.

What happens when college students are not able to enroll in the courses they want? We use a natural experiment at Purdue University in which first-year students are conditionally randomly assigned to oversubscribed courses. Compared to students who are assigned a requested course, those who are shut out are 40% less likely to ever take the oversubscribed course and 30% less likely to ever take a course in the same subject. While a course shutout is equally likely to occur to female and male students who requested the course, shutouts are much more disruptive for female students. In the short run, shutouts decrease the credits female students earn as well as their GPA. In the long-run, shutouts increase the probability female students drop out of school in the first year, decrease the probability they choose majors in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), decrease cumulative GPA, and decrease the probability of graduating within four years. In contrast, shutouts have no effects on short-run credits earned, dropout, majoring in STEM, cumulative GPA, or four-year graduation for male students. Shutouts do have one large measurable long-run impact on male students---shutouts significantly increase the probability that men choose a major from the business school.

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Kevin J. Mumford.

Financing college expenses through an income share agreement (ISA) is an arrangement where the student agrees to pay a fixed percentage of future earned income for a designated period of time in exchange for college funding. Using administrative and survey data for all eligible applicants to a university ISA program, I estimate the adverse selection into the ISA and provide preliminary estimates of the moral hazard for ISA participants. Identification of adverse selection comes from being able to observe the full set of eligible students who apply to the program. There is evidence of selection on the offered income share rate (which is determined by the student’s major) as well as on parent characteristics, though not parent income. Surprisingly, there is no evidence of adverse selection on student ability as measured by SAT score and college grades. I find no differential selection on other student characteristics including demographics and measures of debt aversion, risk aversion, and time preference. Controlling for observable factors, ISA participation increases the likelihood of college graduation by 3 percentage points and decreases starting salary by $5,000 on average.

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Jeffrey T. Denning, Eric R. Eide, Kevin J. Mumford, Daniel Sabey.

After increasing in the 1970s and 1980s, time to bachelor’s degree has declined since the 1990s. We document this fact using data from three nationally representative surveys. We show that this pattern is occurring across school types and for all student types. Using administrative student records from 11 large universities, we confirm the finding and show that it is robust to alternative sample definitions. We discuss what might explain the decline in time to bachelor’s degree by considering trends in student preparation, state funding, student enrollment, study time, and student employment during college.

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Jeffrey T. Denning, Eric R. Eide, Kevin J. Mumford, Richard W. Patterson, Merrill Warnick.

College completion rates declined from the 1970s to the 1990s. We document that this trend has reversed--since the 1990s, college completion rates have increased. We investigate the reasons for the increase in college graduation rates. Collectively, student characteristics, institutional resources, and institution attended do not explain much of the change. However, we show that grade inflation can explain much of the change in graduation rates. We show that GPA is a strong predictor of graduation rates and that GPAs have been rising since the 1990s. We also find that increases in college GPAs cannot be explained by student demographics, ability, and school factors. Further, we find that at a public liberal arts college, grades have increased over time conditional on final exam performance.

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