BEST UP Project
Last registered on August 20, 2019


Trial Information
General Information
BEST UP Project
Initial registration date
August 15, 2019
Last updated
August 20, 2019 10:58 AM EDT
Primary Investigator
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Although Germany has invested in the higher education sector, which led to an increase in the share of students entering college, Germany still ranks closer to the bottom among OECD countries when it comes to social mobility. Still only 62 percent of college-eligible students whose parents have no more than vocational training enroll in college compared to 81 percent of their peers who have a least one parent with college degree. This research project jointly conducted by DIW Berlin and WZB aimed at investigating what drives this “education gap” and whether information about college benefits and costs might be relevant to narrow this gap. The literature in education economics and education sociology identifies among others financial constraints and missing information as two important reasons why students from non-college families, who obtain a college-entrance degree (Abitur in German), do not enroll in tertiary education. The research objective of this project is to determine educational policy measures that could affect students decision making in favor of tertiary education. This study sheds light on whether the provision of information in a randomized controlled trial with more than 1,000 German high school students results in higher college enrollment rates. We collected data from students prior to the information intervention and followed them for at least four consecutive years.

Other project participants: Frauke Peter, Alessandra Rusconi, Martin Ehlert, Claudia Finger, Johanna Storck, Vaishali Zambre
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Solga, Heike and C. Katharina Spiess. 2019. "BEST UP Project ." AEA RCT Registry. August 20.
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Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Intention to enroll
Application and number of applications
Knowledge about costs, admission requirements, and labor market outcomes (benefits)
Study persistence
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The list of twenty-seven schools were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The information treatment group consisted of nine schools that received an information workshop. The financial treatment group comprised nine schools, where 81 students were offered a one-year stipend of 300 Euro/month. The control group consisted also of nine schools that served the purpose of a “pure” control.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Stratification using coarsened exact matching with school type, district, cohort size, share female students, share students with migration background. Matched schools were randomly selected within school types one to information treatment, one to financial treatment, and one to control. Randomization with a random draw from the hat.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
27 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
about 1,600 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
9 schools received (information workshop)
9 schools were assigned to financial treatment arm (81 students were adressed)
9 schools served as control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
Although the proportion of students enrolled in college increased in the last decades, students from non-college family backgrounds remain underrepresented in higher education around the world. This study sheds light on whether the provision of information in a randomized controlled trial with more than 1,000 German high school students results in higher college enrollment rates. One year prior to high school graduation, we treated students in randomly selected schools by giving an in-class presentation on the benefits and costs of higher education as well as on possible funding options for college education. We collected data from students prior to the information intervention and followed them for four consecutive years. We find evidence that an information intervention increases students’ application as well as their enrollment rates, in particular for students from non-college backgrounds with enrollment intentions prior to treatment. Moreover, treated students persist in college at a similar rate as students in the control group, i.e. they are not more likely to drop out of college. Our results indicate that a low-cost information intervention is an efficient tool to encourage students to translate their college intentions into actual enrollment.