An Empirical Investigation of Factors Which Influence College-Going Behavior

by Meir G. Kohn, Charles F. Manski, D. S. Mundel

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How do federal and state programs of institutional or student support affect a prospective student's decision of whether to enroll in college and where? Will the location of new colleges affect these decisions? What will be the impact of proposed tuition increases in public institutions or the expected closing of particular colleges and universities? This report describes a theoretical and empirical model for forecasting the impacts of alternative policies on student enrollment patterns. In the model, the student's choice among institutions involves three successive decisions: (1) whether to commute or live on campus; (2) the "best" college available, given the residency decision; (3) whether to enroll at this "best" college or not at all. For each decision, it is assumed that the student maximizes a utility function defined over the relevant alternatives. Results indicate that a utility-maximizing view of student behavior offers a useful perspective on enrollments.

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