IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Differential Pricing in Undergraduate Education: Effects on Degree Production by Field


  • Kevin M. Stange


In the face of declining state support, many universities have introduced differential pricing by undergraduate program as an alternative to across-the-board tuition increases. This practice aligns price more closely with instructional costs and students' ability to pay post-graduation. Exploiting the staggered adoption of these policies across universities, this paper finds that differential pricing does alter the allocation of students to majors, though heterogeneity across fields may suggest a greater supply response in particularly oversubscribed fields such as nursing. There is some evidence that student groups already underrepresented in certain fields are particularly affected by the new pricing policies. Price does appear to be a policy lever through which state governments can alter the field composition of the workforce they are training with the public higher education system.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin M. Stange, 2013. "Differential Pricing in Undergraduate Education: Effects on Degree Production by Field," NBER Working Papers 19183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19183
    Note: ED LS

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Gary Fethke, 2017. "Efficiency And Equity Implications Of Charging Nonresidents Full-Cost Tuitions," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 603-614, October.
    2. Christopher Avery & Oded Gurantz & Michael Hurwitz & Jonathan Smith, 2018. "Shifting College Majors in Response to Advanced Placement Exam Scores," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 53(4), pages 918-956.
    3. Burer, Samuel & Fethke, Gary, 2016. "Nearly-efficient tuitions and subsidies in American public higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 182-197.
    4. Peter Arcidiacono & Esteban M. Aucejo & V. Joseph Hotz, 2016. "University Differences in the Graduation of Minorities in STEM Fields: Evidence from California," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 525-562, March.
    5. Steven W. Hemelt & Kevin M. Stange, 2016. "Marginal Pricing and Student Investment in Higher Education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(2), pages 441-471, April.
    6. Serena Canaan & Antoine Deeb & Pierre Mouganie, 2022. "Adviser Value Added and Student Outcomes: Evidence from Randomly Assigned College Advisers," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 151-191, November.
    7. 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.
    8. Joseph G. Altonji & Peter Arcidiacono & Arnaud Maurel, 2015. "The Analysis of Field Choice in College and Graduate School: Determinants and Wage Effects," NBER Working Papers 21655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Rodney J. Andrews & Kevin M. Stange, 2019. "Price Regulation, Price Discrimination, and Equality of Opportunity in Higher Education: Evidence from Texas," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 31-65, November.
    10. Luc Bridet & Margaret Leighton, 2015. "The Major Decision: Labor Market Implications of the Timing of Specialization in College," Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance 201510, School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews.
    11. Steven W. Hemelt & Kevin M. Stange & Fernando Furquim & Andrew Simon & John E. Sawyer, 2021. "Why Is Math Cheaper than English? Understanding Cost Differences in Higher Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 397-435.
    12. Haggag, Kareem & Patterson, Richard W. & Pope, Nolan G. & Feudo, Aaron, 2021. "Attribution bias in major decisions: Evidence from the United States Military Academy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 200(C).
    13. Arpita Patnaik & Matthew J. Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2020. "College Majors," NBER Working Papers 27645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Brent J. Evans, 2017. "SMART Money: Do Financial Incentives Encourage College Students to Study Science?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 12(3), pages 342-368, Summer.
    15. John V. Winters, 2017. "Do Native STEM Graduates Increase Innovation? Evidence from U.S. Metropolitan Areas," Economics Working Paper Series 1714, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
    16. Jaison R. Abel & Richard Deitz, 2013. "Do the benefits of college still outweigh the costs?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 20.
    17. Winters, John V., 2014. "Foreign and Native-Born STEM Graduates and Innovation Intensity in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 8575, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Bleemer , Zachary & Mehta, Aashish, 2021. "College Major Restrictions and Student Stratification," University of California at Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher Education qt513249vg, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19183. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.