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Rising Tuition and Enrollment in Public Higher Education

  • Hemelt, Steven W.

    ()

    (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

  • Marcotte, Dave E.

    ()

    (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

In this paper we review recent trends in tuition at public universities and estimate impacts on enrollment. We use data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System on all public four-year colleges and universities from 1991 to 2007 and illustrate that tuition increased dramatically beginning in the early part of this decade, increasing at rates unprecedented in the past half century. We examine impacts of these tuition increases on total enrollment and credit hours, and estimate differences by type of institution. We estimate that the average tuition and fee elasticity of total headcount is -0.1072. So, at the mean a $100 increase in tuition and fees (in 2006 dollars) would lead to a decline in enrollment of a little more than 0.25 percent, with larger effects at Research I universities. We find no evidence that especially large increases from one year to the next have a disproportionately large negative effect on enrollment.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3827.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 2011, 33 (4), 435-457
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3827
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  1. Michael Rizzo & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 2004. "Resident and Nonresident Tuition and Enrollment at Flagship State Universities," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 303-354 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Johnstone, D. Bruce, 2004. "The economics and politics of cost sharing in higher education: comparative perspectives," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 403-410, August.
  3. Long, Mark, 2004. "The impact of asset-tested college financial aid on household savings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 63-88, January.
  4. John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2006. "Cohort Crowding: How Resources Affect Collegiate Attainment," NBER Working Papers 12424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rajindar Koshal & Manjulika Koshal, 2000. "State Appropriation and Higher Education Tuition: What is the relationship?," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 81-89.
  6. Monks, James, 2004. "An Empirical Examination of the Impact of College Financial Aid on Family Savings," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 57(2), pages 189-207, June.
  7. Thomas J. Kane, 1995. "Rising Public College Tuition and College Entry: How Well Do Public Subsidies Promote Access to College?," NBER Working Papers 5164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Lowry, Robert C., 2001. "The effects of state political interests and campus outputs on public university revenues," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 105-119, April.
  9. Susan M. Dynarski & Judith E. Scott-Clayton, 2006. "The Cost of Complexity in Federal Student Aid: Lessons from Optimal Tax Theory and Behavioral Economics," NBER Working Papers 12227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Dynarski, Susan M. & Scott–Clayton, Judith E., 2006. "The Cost of Complexity in Federal Student Aid: Lessons from Optimal Tax Theory and Behavioral Economics," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(2), pages 319-56, June.
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