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Where Do Students Go when For-Profit Colleges Lose Federal Aid?

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  • Stephanie R. Cellini
  • Rajeev Darolia
  • Lesley J. Turner

Abstract

Recent policy debates have focused on whether restricting for-profit institutions’ access to federal student financial aid could reduce student loan defaults without restricting prospective students’ access to higher education. We examine the effects of similar restrictions imposed on over 1,200 for-profit colleges in the 1990s. Using variation in the timing and magnitude of sanctions linked to student loan default rates, we estimate the impact of the loss of federal aid on the enrollment of Pell Grant recipients in sanctioned institutions and their local unsanctioned competitors. On average, sanctioned for-profit colleges experience a 40 percent decrease in annual enrollment in the five years following sanction receipt. Enrollment losses due to for-profit sanctions are offset by enrollment increases within local community colleges. For-profit sanctions also produce negative enrollment spillovers on unsanctioned for-profit competitors, and we provide evidence that these effects are likely due to improved information about local higher education options and/or reputational spillovers to for-profit institutions offering similar programs. Given these offsetting effects, we estimate that within the average county, the public sector absorbs 40 to 60 percent of the total enrollment decline generated by an additional for-profit sanction. Overall, market enrollment declines by just 3 percent. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that students induced to enroll in community colleges following a for-profit competitor’s sanction are less likely to default on their federal loans.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22967
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    Cited by:

    1. Minaya, Veronica & Moore, Brendan & Scott-Clayton, Judith, 2023. "The effect of job displacement on public college enrollment: Evidence from Ohio," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C).
    2. Veronica Minaya & Brendan Moore & Judith Scott-Clayton, 2020. "The Effect of Job Displacement on College Enrollment: Evidence from Ohio," NBER Working Papers 27694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. David Card & Alex Solis, 2022. "Measuring the Effect of Student Loans on College Persistence," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 17(2), pages 335-366, Spring.
    4. Armona, Luis & Chakrabarti, Rajashri & Lovenheim, Michael F., 2022. "Student debt and default: The role of for-profit colleges," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 67-92.
    5. Luis Armona & Rajashri Chakrabarti & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2018. "How Does For-profit College Attendance Affect Student Loans, Defaults and Labor Market Outcomes?," NBER Working Papers 25042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Todd R. Jones & Daniel Kreisman & Ross Rubenstein & Cynthia Searcy & Rachana Bhatt, 2022. "The Effects of Financial Aid Loss on Persistence and Graduation: A Multi-Dimensional Regression Discontinuity Approach," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 17(2), pages 206-231, Spring.
    7. Lisa J. Dettling & Sarena Goodman & Sarah Reber, 2022. "Saving and Wealth Accumulation among Student Loan Borrowers: Implications for Retirement Preparedness," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2022-019, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Gregory Gilpin & Michael Kofoed, 2020. "Employer-Sponsored Education Assistance and Graduate Program Choice, Cost, and Finance," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 61(4), pages 431-458, June.
    9. Lau, Christopher V., 2020. "Are federal student loan accountability regulations effective?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    10. Stephanie Riegg Cellini & Rajeev Darolia, 2017. "High Costs, Low Resources, and Missing Information: Explaining Student Borrowing in the For-Profit Sector," The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, , vol. 671(1), pages 92-112, May.
    11. Adam Looney & Constantine Yannelis, 2020. "How To Fix Federal Student Loan Programs," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(2), pages 540-547, March.
    12. Juan Esteban Carranza & María Marta Ferreyra & Ana Maria Gazmuri, 2023. "The Dynamic Market for Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs," Borradores de Economia 1265, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    13. Sarena Goodman & Alice Henriques Volz, 2020. "Attendance Spillovers between Public and For-Profit Colleges: Evidence from Statewide Variation in Appropriations for Higher Education," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 15(3), pages 428-456, Summer.
    14. Maarten De Ridder & Simona Hannon & Damjan Pfajfar, 2020. "The Multiplier Effect of Education Expenditure," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2020-058, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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