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    Public and Private Costs of College Mismatch by Merrifield, Sophie

    A lack of adequate information given to students regarding the college application process has resulted in the phenomenon known as the college mismatch problem. College mismatch, consisting of overmatch and undermatch, represents low achieving students attending high quality institutions and high achieving students attending low quality institutions. In an attempt to explain the significance behind this phenomenon, much of the current literature analyzes the private costs of college mismatch, but falls short when analyzing the public costs. This paper explores both private and public costs by examining degree attainment and college quality in relation to earnings and civic behavior. I use individual level data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth cohort (NLSY97) to estimate six varying private and public models. I find significantly higher earnings for individuals receiving an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree when compared to individuals earning a high school degree or less. Furthermore, attaining a bachelor’s degree or higher positively correlates with volunteering, donating, and voting behaviors while negatively correlating with crime and divorce. These conclusions provide insight into the importance of finding the correct college match in order to maximize earnings and create more active citizens who benefit society.