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Rising Tuition and Enrollment in Public Higher Education

Author

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  • Hemelt, Steven W.

    () (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

  • Marcotte, Dave E.

    () (American University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hemelt, Steven W. & Marcotte, Dave E., 2008. "Rising Tuition and Enrollment in Public Higher Education," IZA Discussion Papers 3827, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3827
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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;National Tax Journal, vol. 59(2), pages 319-356, June.
    4. 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.
    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. Bound, John & Turner, Sarah, 2007. "Cohort crowding: How resources affect collegiate attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 877-899, June.
    7. 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.
    8. Monks, James, 2004. "An Empirical Examination of the Impact of College Financial Aid on Family Savings," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 57(2), pages 189-207, June.
    9. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dearden, Lorraine & Fitzsimons, Emla & Wyness, Gill, 2014. "Money for nothing: Estimating the impact of student aid on participation in higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 66-78.
    2. Bruckmeier, Kerstin & Wigger, Berthold U., 2014. "The effects of tuition fees on transition from high school to university in Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 14-23.
    3. Lorraine Dearden & Emla Fitzsimons & Gill Wyness, 2011. "The Impact of Tuition Fees and Support on University Participation in the UK," CEE Discussion Papers 0126, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    4. Augusto Cerqua & Giorgio Di Pietro, 2017. "Natural disasters and university enrolment: evidence from L’Aquila earthquake," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(14), pages 1440-1457, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tuition; higher education; enrollment;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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