Test-Optional Admissions and Student Debt

28 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2020

See all articles by Alexia Hope Bevers

Alexia Hope Bevers

Western Carolina University

Sean E. Mulholland

Western Carolina University

Date Written: July 1, 2020


Applicants who forgo submitting standardized test scores signal that they have fewer enrollment options. Facing fewer competitors, test-optional schools can charge more. We find that graduates admitted under a test-optional policy borrow $1,358 (2016$) more than those required to submit their scores. This amount represents about 5 percent of the average debt of bachelor’s degree holders. As the number of test-optional schools has increased, each successive post-switching graduating class borrows less. We also show that the share of graduates with debt drops after the switch to test-optional admissions but rises as the number of test-optional competitors increases.

Keywords: Student Debt, Test-Optional Admissions, Standardized Tests, College Tuition, Market Power

JEL Classification: I22, I23, L13

Suggested Citation

Bevers, Alexia and Mulholland, Sean E., Test-Optional Admissions and Student Debt (July 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3640403 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3640403

Alexia Bevers

Western Carolina University ( email )

Cullowhee, NC 28723
United States

Sean E. Mulholland (Contact Author)

Western Carolina University ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.wcu.edu/semulholland/

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