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Does Federal Student Aid Raise Tuition? New Evidence on For-Profit Colleges

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  • Stephanie Riegg Cellini
  • Claudia Goldin

Abstract

We use administrative data from five states to provide the first comprehensive estimates of the size of the for-profit higher education sector in the U.S. Our estimates include schools that are not currently eligible to participate in federal student aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act and are therefore missed in official counts. We find that the number of for-profit institutions is double the official count and the number of students enrolled during the year is between one-quarter and one-third greater. Many for-profit institutions that are not Title IV eligible offer certificate (non-degree) programs that are similar, if not identical, to those given by institutions that are Title IV eligible. We find that the Title IV institutions charge tuition that is about 78 percent higher than that charged by comparable institutions whose students cannot apply for federal financial aid. The dollar value of the premium is about equal to the amount of grant aid and loan subsidy received by students in eligible institutions, lending some credence to a variant of the "Bennett hypothesis" that aid-eligible for-profit institutions capture a large part of the federal student aid subsidy.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephanie Riegg Cellini & Claudia Goldin, 2012. "Does Federal Student Aid Raise Tuition? New Evidence on For-Profit Colleges," NBER Working Papers 17827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17827 Note: DAE ED PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stephanie Riegg Cellini, 2009. "Crowded Colleges and College Crowd-Out: The Impact of Public Subsidies on the Two-Year College Market," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 1-30, August.
    2. Singell, Larry Jr. & Stone, Joe A., 2007. "For whom the Pell tolls: The response of university tuition to federal grants-in-aid," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 285-295, June.
    3. Chung, Anna S., 2012. "Choice of for-profit college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1084-1101.
    4. Turner, Nicholas, 2012. "Who benefits from student aid? The economic incidence of tax-based federal student aid," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 463-481.
    5. Bridget Terry Long, 2004. "How do Financial Aid Policies Affect Colleges?: The Institutional Impact of the Georgia HOPE Scholarship," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
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    Cited by:

    1. Darolia, Rajeev, 2013. "Integrity versus access? The effect of federal financial aid availability on postsecondary enrollment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 101-114.
    2. David J. Deming & Christopher R. Walters, 2017. "The Impact of Price Caps and Spending Cuts on U.S. Postsecondary Attainment," NBER Working Papers 23736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Delaney, Jennifer A. & Kearney, Tyler D., 2015. "The impact of guaranteed tuition policies on postsecondary tuition levels: A difference-in-difference approach," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 80-99.
    4. Stephanie R. Cellini & Rajeev Darolia & Lesley J. Turner, 2016. "Where Do Students Go when For-Profit Colleges Lose Federal Aid?," NBER Working Papers 22967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Grey Gordon & Aaron Hedlund, 2017. "Accounting for the Rise in College Tuition," NBER Chapters,in: Education, Skills, and Technical Change: Implications for Future U.S. GDP Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gabrielle Fack & Julien Grenet, 2015. "Improving College Access and Success for Low-Income Students: Evidence from a Large Need-Based Grant Program," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 1-34, April.
    7. Adam Looney & Constantine Yannelis, 2015. "A Crisis in Student Loans? How Changes in the Characteristics of Borrowers and in the Institutions They Attended Contributed to Rising Loan Defaults," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 46(2 (Fall)), pages 1-89.
    8. Cellini, Stephanie Riegg & Chaudhary, Latika, 2014. "The labor market returns to a for-profit college education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 125-140.
    9. Nathaniel G. Hilger, 2016. "Parental Job Loss and Children's Long-Term Outcomes: Evidence from 7 Million Fathers' Layoffs," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 247-283, July.
    10. Stephanie Riegg Cellini & Nicholas Turner, 2016. "Gainfully Employed? Assessing the Employment and Earnings of For-Profit College Students Using Administrative Data," NBER Working Papers 22287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Holger M. Mueller & Constantine Yannelis, 2017. "Students in Distress: Labor Market Shocks, Student Loan Default, and Federal Insurance Programs," NBER Working Papers 23284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Darolia, Rajeev, 2013. "Student Loan Repayment and College Accountability," Payment Cards Center Discussion Paper 13-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    13. Cremer, Helmuth & Maldonado, Dario, 2013. "Mixed oligopoly in education," TSE Working Papers 13-381, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    14. Brad J. Hershbein & Kevin Hollenbeck, 2013. "The Distribution of College Graduate Debt, 1990 to 2008: A Decomposition Approach," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 14-204, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    15. Darolia, Rajeev & Ritter, Dubravka, 2017. "Strategic Default Among Private Student Loan Debtors: Evidence from Bankruptcy Reform," Working Papers 17-38, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    16. Rajeev Darolia, 2015. "Messengers of Bad News or Bad Apples? Student Debt and College Accountability," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 10(2), pages 277-299, March.
    17. Ozan Jaquette & Edna Parra, 2016. "The Problem with the Delta Cost Project Database," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(5), pages 630-651, August.
    18. Holger Sieg & Yu Wang, 2017. "The Impact of Student Debt on Education, Career, and Marriage Choices of Female Lawyers," NBER Working Papers 23453, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Webber, Douglas A., 2017. "Risk-sharing and student loan policy: Consequences for students and institutions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 1-9.
    20. Mueller, Holger M & Yannelis, Constantine, 2017. "Students in Distress: Labor Market Shocks, Student Loan Default, and Federal Insurance Programs," CEPR Discussion Papers 11938, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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