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The Impact of US News and World Report College Rankings on Admission Outcomes and Pricing Decisions at Selective Private Institutions

Authors
Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

Despite the widespread popularity of the U.S. News & World Report College rankings there has been no empirical analysis of the impact of these rankings on applications, admissions, and enrollment decisions, as well as on institutions' pricing policies. Our analyses indicate that a less favorable rank leads an institution to accept a greater percentage of its applicants, a smaller percentage of its admitted applicants matriculate, and the resulting entering class is of lower quality, as measured by its average SAT scores. While tuition levels are not responsive to less favorable rankings, institutions offer less visible price discounts in the form of slightly lower levels of expected self-help (loans and employment opportunities) and significantly more generous levels of grant aid. These decreases in net tuition are an attempt to attract additional students from their declining applicant pool.

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