Research in Higher Education

, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 601–625 | Cite as

Market-Based Higher Education: Does Colorado’s Voucher Model Improve Higher Education Access and Efficiency?

  • Nicholas W. Hillman
  • David A. Tandberg
  • Jacob P. K. Gross


In 2004, Colorado introduced the nation’s first voucher model for financing public higher education. With state appropriations now allocated to students, rather than institutions, state officials expect this model to create cost efficiencies while also expanding college access. Using difference-in-difference regression analysis, we find limited evidence that these outcomes occurred within the 4-year sector; however, the policy increased cost efficiencies among community college and reduced college access for some underrepresented groups. The paper discusses the challenges of applying market-based reforms to public higher education.


Higher education finance State policy Market-based reforms 



We would like to thank Brian Prescott, Don Heller, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful reviews of earlier versions; any errors or oversights are our own. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Nicholas W. Hillman, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Education Room 249, 1000 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas W. Hillman
    • 1
  • David A. Tandberg
    • 2
  • Jacob P. K. Gross
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  3. 3.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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