The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions.

Bettinger et al. (2009)
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Summary by 
Mark Egan

This paper examined the issue of low awareness and take-up rates for government support programs, specifically for college financial aid. The authors used 2 treatment groups to test (1) the efficacy of simplifying the application forms for college financial aid for low & middle-income families applying and (2) the efficacy of having a tax professional provide guidance on completing the application form. The authors found that those who received assistance with their application were significantly more likely to submit the application, enroll in college and receive further financial aid. These benefits were not seen for those given the simplified form but not the professional assistance. This speaks to the importance of channel factors; in this case sitting down with a professional for an hour to complete the application.