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Tax Preferences For Higher Education And Adult College Enrollment

  • LaLumia, Sara

The federal government delivers substantial college aid through the tax code. The designs of the Lifetime Learning tax credit and the tuition deduction may make them particularly useful to older students. This paper investigates how these provisions affect college attendance of individuals in their 30s and 40s. Using panel data and fixed effects instrumental variable estimation, I find no effect on adult college attendance or degree completion. There is a positive effect on college attendance among a subsample, those whose 1998 educational attainment fell short of earlier expectations. Overall, these results suggest that tax-based aid subsidizes inframarginal college attendance among adults.

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Article provided by National Tax Association in its journal National Tax Journal.

Volume (Year): 65 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 59-89

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Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:65:y:2012:i:1:p:59-89
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  1. Philippe Belley & Lance Lochner, 2007. "The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement," Working Papers 2011-037, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  2. Dynarski, Susan, 2005. "Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor," Working Paper Series rwp05-050, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Duane E. Leigh & Andrew M. Gill, 1997. "Labor Market Returns to Community Colleges: Evidence for Returning Adults," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 334-353.
  4. Neil Seftor Sarah E Turner, 2002. "Back to School Federal Student Aid Policy and Adult College Enrollment," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 28f7ccb624fd4f2a9a20d7075, Mathematica Policy Research.
  5. John Bound & Michael F. Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2010. "Why Have College Completion Rates Declined? An Analysis of Changing Student Preparation and Collegiate Resources," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 129-57, July.
  6. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  7. Jepsen, Christopher & Montgomery, Mark, 2009. "Miles to go before I learn: The effect of travel distance on the mature person's choice of a community college," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 64-73, January.
  8. Audrey Light, 1995. "The Effects of Interrupted Schooling on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 472-502.
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