Recent policy and research efforts have focused on simplifying the college-going process, improving transparency around college costs, and helping students make informed decisions. In 2012, the Obama administration released the “shopping sheet,” a standardized financial aid offer that is intended to provide students with simplified information about costs, loan options, and college outcomes. This paper examines the impact of the shopping sheet (adopted by more than 400 four-year colleges in two years) using: (1) administrative data from a field experiment among admitted and already-enrolled students at a public university, and (2) college-level data from a quasi-experiment among four-year colleges. Findings provide some evidence that information in the shopping sheet relating a college’s graduation rate to other colleges led to decreased borrowing at colleges with poor graduation outcomes. Additionally, the shopping sheet decreased borrowing at colleges that enroll high shares of students receiving federal student aid and underrepresented minority students. These findings indicate the shopping sheet may be particularly salient to students who traditionally face higher informational barriers during the college-going process.
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