The credits that count: How credit growth and financial aid affect college tuition and fees

Katharina Best*, Jussi Keppo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Using a two-stage least squares model, we build a macroeconomic model of supply and demand for US higher education as measured by enrollment. We find that college education benefits (e.g. relative earnings and employment level), credit factors (e.g. student loan amounts and household debt), and financial aid shift demand. Higher tuition prices increase the appeal of higher education for students but credit constraints put a barrier on demand growth. Tuition prices and debt levels are highly correlated, suggesting that students respond to higher tuition prices by borrowing. School's operating costs as well as tuition and non-tuition revenue drive supply. Schools can use tuition prices to signal quality, and relative demand-side price-in-elasticity allows them to raise prices. For the private institution sector alone, we see a higher level of consumer price sensitivity, with schools determining enrollment levels and adjusting tuition price accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-613
Number of pages25
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • demand for schooling
  • educational economics
  • educational finance
  • state and federal aid
  • student financial aid

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