Hoxby’s Expanding College Opportunities project increases college prospects for high-achieving, low-income students

Monday, April 1, 2013
Walkway heading towards the School of Education and Hoover senior fellow and mem
Walkway heading towards the School of Education and Hoover senior fellow and mem

On Monday, April 1, 2013, Hoover fellow Caroline Hoxby and the University of Virginia’s Sarah Turner released their findings from the Expanding College Opportunities (ECO) project. ECO is a low-cost project aimed at addressing information gaps that prevent high-achieving, low-income students from applying to the nation’s best colleges. The project provides information on how to apply to colleges, on financial aid and scholarships, and about colleges’ resources and matriculation rates.

ECO involved 39,682 high-achieving, low-income students from 2010 to 2012; Hoxby and Turner found that the program’s intervention led those students to change their application behavior. In general, students in the program applied to a greater number of colleges and to schools with higher graduation rates and more instructional resources than similar students not in the program. Furthermore, ECO students were admitted to a wider range of schools.

Overall, ECO appears to have had a tremendous impact on students; Hoxby and Turner calculated that the impact was at least 275 times greater than in-person counseling targeted at the same students. In the wake of the December 2012 release of “The Missing ‘One-Offs’: The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low Income Students,” a collaborative study by Hoxby and Harvard’s Christopher Avery showing that high-achieving, low-income students typically do not apply to the nation’s best colleges, ECO is a step in the right direction for a troubling issue facing American education.

Hoxby is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education. She is also the Scott and Donya Bommer Professor of Economics at Stanford University and the director of the Economics of Education Program for the National Bureau of Economic Research. Sarah Turner is a professor of economics and education at the University of Virginia.

Click here for a Stanford Report story on the project.

Click here for a New York Times story on the project.

Click here to see Hoxby's interview on PBS's NewsHour.