Research

Publications

"Making College Affordable? The Impacts of Tuition Freezes and Caps" (with Minseon Park), forthcoming at Economics of Education Review

Latest version link Annenberg EdWorkingPapers link

Abstract: We study how colleges' ``sticker price'' and institutional financial aid change during and after tuition caps and freezes using a modified event study design. While tuition regulations lower sticker prices, colleges recoup losses by lowering financial aid or rapidly increasing tuition after regulations end. At four-year colleges, regulations lower sticker price by 6.3 percentage points while simultaneously reducing aid by nearly twice as much (11.3 percentage points). At two-year colleges, while regulations lower tuition by 9.3 percentage points, the effect disappears within three years of the end of the regulation. Changes in net tuition vary widely; focusing on four-year colleges, while some students receive discounts up to 5.9 percentage points, others pay 3.8 percentage points more than they would have without these regulations. Students who receive financial aid, enter college right after the regulation is lifted, or attend colleges that are more dependent on tuition benefit less.

"Workforce Entry Including Career and Technical Education and Training" in Jennie Romich, Timothy Smeeding, and Michael Strain (eds.) “What Has Happened to the American Working Class Since the Great Recession?” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 695, no. 1 (May 2021): 260–74. (with Burt Barnow and Jeffrey Smith)

Abstract: This article reviews the basic patterns of employment and school enrollment for new labor market entrants in the period leading up to the Great Recession and in the decade thereafter. We find a persistent shift into four-year colleges that began during the Great Recession. At the same time, fewer youth are neither working nor enrolled in school. We see little change in occupational training programs during our study period, in program or in participation rates; in particular, rates of training provided via federal workforce development programs remain low among workforce entrants. The research literature on these programs has advanced but without large effects on policy or practice.

Working Papers

Abstract: Graduating into a recession is associated with losses in wages, but less is known about how these effects vary based on where an individual graduated from. We study how college quality influences the effects of graduating into an economic downturn in the context of the Great Recession. Using restricted-use data from the National Survey of College Graduates, we find that graduation into worse economic conditions is associated with earnings losses that are concentrated among graduates from relative high-quality colleges, with reductions in labor mobility and substitution from working in the labor force to enrolling in graduate school being potential mechanisms. We discuss what implications these findings have for the Great Recession's impact on income mobility among the cohorts who graduated into it.

Abstract: This paper contributes to the literature on the causal effect of college quality on student labor market outcomes by exploring mechanisms behind earnings impacts, with a focus on choice of major and occupation. Using data from the NLSY97 and a “selection on observed variables” identification strategy with a rich set of covariates, I find that students who attend high-quality colleges sort into higher-paying occupations. These large and statistically significant effects of college quality on predicted earnings of occupation can account for over half of the earnings return to college quality. On the contrary, predicted earnings by major are not found to be affected by college quality in any economically meaningful or statistically significant way. I apply the framework from Oster (2019) to probe my results for sensitivity, and find that they are robust to a variety of plausible assumptions about the nature of selection on unobserved variables.


Works in Progress

"The Importance of Local Options in College Choice: Evidence from Community College Openings" (JMP preliminary title)

"Quantifying Non-Sampling Variation: College Quality and the Garden of Forking Paths" (with Eleanor Dillon and Jeffrey Smith)