Georgia Policy Labs Reports

Author ORCID Identifier

Jonathan Smith:

Johsua Goodman:



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Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-18-2020


Research from the Georgia Policy Labs provides the first estimated economic impacts of students’ access to an entire sector of public higher education in the U.S. Approximately half of Georgia high school graduates who enroll in college do so in the state’s public four-year sector, which requires minimum SAT scores for admission. Regression discontinuity estimates show enrollment in public four-year institutions boosts students’ household income around age 30 by 20 percent, and has even larger impacts for those from low income high schools. Access to this sector has little clear impact on student loan balances or other measures of financial health. For the marginal student, enrollment in such institutions has large private returns even in the short run and positive returns to state budgets in the long run.


Does Enrolling in a Public Four-Year College Pay Off for Georgia Students?