Type: Seminar

How do Colleges Respond to Federal Government Ratings


​Lesley Turner​, ​Assistant Professor in Economics, University of Maryland

Date & time

Jun 7, 2017, 11:30 am-1:00 pm EDT


Open to PhD students and faculty engaged in causal inference in education research.

About CIERS:

The objective of the Causal Inference in Education Research Seminar (CIERS) is to engage students and faculty from across the university in conversations around education research using various research methodologies. This seminar provides a space for doctoral students and faculty from the School of Education, Ford School of Public Policy, and the Departments of Economics, Sociology, Statistics, and Political Science to discuss current research and receive feedback on works-in-progress. Discourse between these schools and departments creates a more complete community of education scholars, and provides a networking opportunity for students enrolled in a variety of academic programs who share common research interests. Open to PhD students and faculty engaged in causal inference in education research.


The U.S. Department of Education has developed several tools intended to put pressure on institutions to hold down costs while also helping students and their families make informed postsecondary education decisions. Beginning in 2011, the College Affordability and Transparency Center (CATC) released annual lists that specify the set of institutions with the highest and fastest growing prices. We evaluate the impact of CATC rankings on institutional behavior, taking advantage of variation in school rankings due to the discrete nature of the CATC classifications of institutions as “high cost”. We test whether institutions respond by altering financial aid awards and listed prices, such as tuition and fees, books and supplies, and off-campus living expenses. Regression discontinuity estimates of the impact of CATC rankings show that community colleges respond to being labeled as high cost by reducing tuition and fees and increasing institutional grants. In contrast, four-year public institutions respond by revising downward past cost of attendance components. We find little evidence that nonprofit or for-profit institutions respond to CATC rankings.

This paper is co-authored with John Burczek Dreier