Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Mroz, Thomas A

Committee Member

Sauer, Raymond

Committee Member

Simon, Curtis

Committee Member

Wells, Gary


Numerous studies model whether students enroll in higher education, but few have investigated how students decide where to attend. Even fewer studies have considered how community college students make this nearly first noncompulsory human capital investment decision. This research focuses on the enrollment decisions of students whose first postsecondary destination after high school graduation is one of the nation's public two-year colleges, a group that comprises nearly 40 percent of the undergraduates in American higher education (Knapp et al. 2011). The first chapter introduces the reader to community colleges with a brief history of the schools, their role in higher education today, and a review of the current economic research related to these institutions. The second chapter develops a conditional logistic choice model to examine the importance of cost, quality, and distance in students' community college enrollment decisions using evidence from a recent cohort. Much of the previous literature assumes that community college students simply enroll in the closest alternative. Key findings of this research include 1) two-year college students are highly responsive to tuition costs and distance; 2) financial and non-financial school attributes affect the likelihood that a student enrolls in any given school; and 3) high-achieving students in high school are significantly more likely to choose a community college with an honors program, the first evidence of sorting by ability among this group of higher education participants.

Included in

Economics Commons



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