Kenneth Troske, University of Kentucky, The Benefits of Alternatives to Conventional College: Comparing the Labor-Market Returns to For-Profit Schools and Community Colleges

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Title: The Benefits of Alternatives to Conventional College: Comparing the Labor-Market Returns to For-Profit Schools and Community Colleges

Abstract: This paper provides novel evidence on the labor-market returns to for-profit post secondary school and community college attendance.  Specifically, we link administrative records on for-profit school and community college attendance with quarterly earnings data for nearly for nearly 66,000 students who enrolled in for-profit schools and over 166,000 students who enrolled in public community colleges in one state between 2005 and 2009. Because average age at school entry is almost 30 years of age, and because we have earnings data for five or more years prior to attendance, we estimate a person fixed-effects model to control for time-invariant differences across students. Five years after enrollment, for students attending for-profit schools, quarterly earnings conditional on employment exceed earnings in the absence of schooling by over 20 percent for men and 17 percent for women in both certificate and associate’s degree programs. For students attending community colleges, quarterly earnings conditional on employment exceed earnings in the absence of enrollment by 9 percent for men in certificate programs, 6 percent for men in associate’s degree programs, and for women by 19 and 13 percent in certificate and associate’s degree programs, respectively. Returns net of tuition are generally positive for certificates for individuals enrolled in for-profit schools, although they only become positive approximately 10 years after initial enrollment. For other groups the returns are less clear.

Presenter: Kenneth Troske,  University of Kentucky

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