High school students’ accuracy in estimating the cost of college: A proposed methodological approach and differences among racial/ethnic groups and college financial-related factors

High school students’ accuracy in estimating the cost of college (AECC) was examined by utilizing a new methodological approach, the absolute-deviation-continuous construct. This study used the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) data and examined 10,530 11th grade students in order to measure their AECC for 4-year public and private postsecondary institutions. The findings revealed that high school students tended to overestimate the cost of college, especially 4-year public in-state tuition. Second, this investigation explored AECC differences across racial/ethnic groups. Lastly, this research examined how AECC differed based on racial/ethnic and college financial-related factors (importance of cost on college enrollment, knowledge of and intent to complete FAFSA, and eligibility for financial aid). This examination is important because it is the first critical analysis of AECC and is timely given the data were collected immediately after the Great Recession.

Nienhusser, H. K., & Oshio, T. (2017). High school students’ accuracy in estimating cost of college: A proposed methodological approach and differences among racial/ethnic groups and college financial-related factors. Research in Higher Education, 58(7),723-745.

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