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Income Contingent University Loans: Policy Design and an Application to Spain

Cabrales, A; Guell, M; Madera, R; Viola, A; (2019) Income Contingent University Loans: Policy Design and an Application to Spain. Economic Policy , 34 (99) pp. 479-521. 10.1093/epolic/eiz010. Green open access

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Abstract

In Europe, the need for additional funding coming from either budget cuts and/or increased costs due to increased competition in university quality has reopened the debate on the financing of university systems. An attractive alternative to the current general-tax-financed subsidies is Income Contingent Loans (ICL), a flexible scheme that puts more weight on private resources while enhancing progressivity. One challenge of the viability of ICL systems is the functioning of the labor market for university graduates. This paper offers a general analysis of the economics of ICL, followed by an application to Spain. We set up a loan laboratory in which we can explore the distributional effects of different loan systems to finance tertiary education at current costs as well as to increase university funding to improve its quality. We use simulated lifetime earnings of graduates matching the dynamics of employment and earnings in the Spanish administrative social security data to calculate the burden of introducing ICL for individuals at different points of the earnings distribution and for the government. We find that (1) our proposed structure is highly progressive under all specifications, with the top quarter of the distribution paying close to the full amount of the tuition and the bottom 10% paying almost no tuition and (2) the share of total university education subsidized by the government is between 16 and 56 percentage points less than under the current system.

Type: Article
Title: Income Contingent University Loans: Policy Design and an Application to Spain
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/epolic/eiz010
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/epolic/eiz010
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10069603
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