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Three Essays on the Economics of Higher Education in the United States

Bazak, Jordan (2023) Three Essays on the Economics of Higher Education in the United States. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This thesis contains three essays on the economics of higher education in the United States. Each essay asks a question related to a different component of higher education. Chapter 1, joint work with Randall Walsh, focuses on the application and admissions process. Specifically, we estimate the effect of admitting (versus rejecting) a marginal applicant on the number of applications from that student's high school the following year. We find that a marginal admitted student increases the number of applications by 13%. The effect is largest for out-of-state high schools and induced applicants have a low to medium probability of admissions. Our results suggest that positive admissions outcomes influence future students both by increasing the salience of a given college and by raising the perceived probability of acceptance. Chapter 2, my job market paper, estimates the impact of tuition-free community college programs on enrollment, financial aid, and degree completion. I use a synthetic difference-in-difference approach, permitting estimation of state-specific treatment effects. On average, TFCC programs increase enrollment at community colleges 5-10%. In those states which require full-time enrollment there is considerable substitution away from part-time status. I also find evidence of TFCC programs diverting students from four-year colleges. Increased financial aid is small relative to net price and accrues primarily to students from wealthier households. In most adopting states, persistence and completion rates are stable after policy adoption. As a consequence, increased enrollment translates into expanded credential completion. Chapter 3 explores the relationship between student debt and post-graduation geographic mobility. Using large-sample credit data from Experian, I find a positive correlation between student debt obtained before age 22 and the probability of moving between the ages of 22 and 26. I replicate this result using a similar specification in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Controlling for academic history (only available in the NLSY) and prior migration (more accurate in the NLSY), however, reduces the magnitude of coefficients by around 50%. My results reveal key limitations in using credit data in this context.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bazak, Jordanjhb44@pitt.edujhb440000000254013865
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWalsh,
Committee MemberDequennois, ClaireCED87@pitt.educed87
Committee MemberFerrara,
Committee MemberTurner,
Date: 5 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 July 2023
Approval Date: 5 September 2023
Submission Date: 28 July 2023
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 109
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Economics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: tuition-free community college, student loan, college application
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2023 16:07
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 16:07


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