Based on rational choice theory, the present study investigates whether changes in students’ evaluation of benefits, costs, and probability of success related with higher education (HE) causally affect their enrolment plans. Moreover, the study aims to test if social inequality in access to HE would be reduced by counterbalancing students’ evaluations of rational choice factors across social origins. For these purposes, we conducted a factorial survey, making it possible to experimentally vary benefits, costs, and probability of success associated with HE to draw causal inferences about students’ intention to enrol in HE, and to validate findings by means of a traditional survey. Results of multilevel analyses provide support for rational choice theory and its predictions. While benefits and probability of success were found to be positive predictors, costs were negatively related to the intention to enrol in HE. Besides, we found empirical evidence for the interaction between students’ probability of success and perceived benefits, and the investment risk expressed as ratio between costs and probability of success. Finally, results indicate that social inequality, as identified in the traditional survey, might be reduced if perceived benefits, costs, and probabilities of success were balanced among social origins.