Research in Higher Education

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 471–489

RECENT RESEARCH ON THE ECONOMICS OF ATTENDING COLLEGE: Returns on Investment and Responsiveness to Price

  • Michael B. Paulsen


This article examines recent research on the private returns to investment in baccalaureate and sub-baccalaureate postsecondary education, the social returns to investment in higher education, and student responsiveness to prices and subsidies (e.g., tuition and financial aid). The analysis focuses on the implications of recent research on the economics of attending college for policy and practice in a variety of specific areas such as enrollment management; the role of community colleges and other sub-baccalaureate institutions relative to welfare-to-work programs, tuition taxcredit legislation, and the value of investing in credits even without credentials; the development of effective high-tuition, high-aid, and other state and institutional pricing strategies; and the inequities in the distribution of access and choice in higher education that is evident in the widening gaps in participation rates of white and minority youth and higher- and lower-income students, as well as in the growing concentration of lower-income students at-and the flight of middle- and upper-income students from-community colleges.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1998

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  • Michael B. Paulsen

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