Research in Higher Education

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 263–299

Longer-Term Economic Effects of College Selectivity and Control


DOI: 10.1023/A:1023058330965

Cite this article as:
Thomas, S.L. Research in Higher Education (2003) 44: 263. doi:10.1023/A:1023058330965


This study uses a nationally representative sample of baccalaureate recipients—4 years after graduation—to assess the effects of college selectivity and control on earnings and indebtedness related to undergraduate education. After controlling for salient background, education, and labor market characteristics there is strong evidence of a substantial earnings return to college selectivity and control, which is consistent with the bulk of earlier work in this area. The impact of these factors on education-related debt is varied, with graduates from more selective private institutions continuing to bear the largest debt burden. Findings also suggest, however, that the enhanced earnings for graduates from selective private colleges are quickly offsetting the associated debt burden. Potentially problematic issues include a mix of high debt loads and sub-par labor market experiences for graduates from low selectivity private institutions—those that also serve a disproportionate number of nontraditional students.

financial aid debt human capital labor market baccalaureate and beyond 

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Higher Education, Meigs HallUniversity of GeorgiaAthens

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