How much do subsidies to community college attendance matter?

That is a new NBER Working Paper by Angrist, Autor, Hudson, and Pallais.  Here is the sentence of interest for the recent community college initiative:

Awards offered to prospective community college students had little effect on college enrollment or the type of college attended.

Do note that some other kinds of awards appeared to be more effective, so this is not an anti-subsidy result per se.  And here is a new Bulman and Hoxby paper on federal tax credits and the demand for higher education (not just community colleges):

We assess several explanations why the credits appear to have negligible causal effects.

Making these programs work is not so easy.  Reihan Salam offers good points, so does Arnold Kling.

Comments

community college = community daycare. that's what it has become

Do you think any 18 year old is seeking daycare? They wish to be autonomous individuals. Your argument for daycare would be if their parents put them in a community college against their will.

Choice for many is either college, of any sort, or get a job.

"Do you think any 18 year old is seeking daycare?"

I think plenty of 18 year olds are avoiding a boring job.

sounds like BS manipulation aimed at gullible minds of little intellect

Adjust your perspective a bit.

Some students in these programs have to take remediation classes--without college credit--first, and pay for basically getting a high school training, before they get any college credit.

So, why not recognize that some of these students are burdened with first getting up to speed, without getting credit for it, before you even discuss the "cost" of community "college".

Its like you have to pay a toll to get in, and get no college credit for paying the toll. Eliminate the toll.

I would be interested in seeing any work on the elasticity of community college attendance and cost, when you factor in the costs of taking remedial courses for which one receives no credit, even without risk adjustment.

How 'bout that: the paper Tyler cited made my point:

"Awards offered to nonwhite applicants, to those with relatively low academic achievement, and to applicants who targeted less-selective four-year programs (as measured by admissions rates) generated the largest gains in enrollment and persistence, while effects were much smaller for applicants predicted to have stronger post-secondary outcomes in the absence of treatment. Thus, awards enabled groups with historically-low college attendance to ʽlevel up,ʼ largely equalizing enrollment and persistence rates with traditionally college-bound peers, particularly at four-year programs. Awards offered to prospective community college students had little effect on college enrollment or the type of college attended."

"Eliminate the toll." Otherwise known as do the damn work in high school where you should have.

Why not expand access to adult education courses in numeracy and literacy, free of charge.

I'd like to see someone try to argue against the public value of no-charge access to literacy and numeracy courses.

Looking at community college in terms of degrees awarded might be a particularly bad metric.

When I was in high school, my mother taught English at the local community college. A lot of her students were

1) High schoolers / home schoolers looking for some enrichment
2) Older people interested in her Writing Your Own Life Story class.
3) Foreigners (particularly Russians in the '90s) who were technically proficient in their fields but needed to improve their English to work in the US.

That's three big groups of people who are benefiting from the community college for whom a degree is not particularly valuable. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that a lot of people who attend a community college take an a la carte approach rather than focusing on a degree.

Zach, In economics, there is something called revealed preference. Your comment that the degree "is not particularly valuable to them" flies in the face of their efforts to attain it.

I think his point was exactly that they were NOT trying to attain a degree.

Not everyone taking classes is degree-tracked, Bill.

What does degree tracked have to do with taking courses at a CC or Vo Tech. So, someone learns to speak English better; someone learns how to weld.

Look at Zach's description: "High schoolers / home schoolers looking for some enrichmen t2) Older people interested in her Writing Your Own Life Story class.3) Foreigners (particularly Russians in the ’90s) who were technically proficient in their fields but needed to improve their English to work in the US," Other than the old folks who paid taxes, the rest seem fine to me.

"Zach, In economics, there is something called revealed preference. Your comment that the degree “is not particularly valuable to them” flies in the face of their efforts to attain it. "

His point was that many people attending CC aren't trying to attain a degree. And that if your metric is completion of degree is success, then it's probably the wrong metric to use in those cases.

JWatts, My comment was that if people make the effort to learn, they must be doing for a reason that benefits them. I didn't attach it to a degree.

Oops. I apologize, and did attach it to a degree. JW, your comment was correct. Zach, I apologize as well, as you were really saying that people derived a benefit other than a degree, and that had value to them. I read your comment as critical of those pursuing an education.

looks like the university cartel is organizing to strike back against this community college threat.

College is a scam, but free community college is less of a scam

Academics can be elitist, but I've never heard of an academic who thinks that community college is a scam, perhaps just that it doesn't lead to jobs which offer value through critical thinking, etc.

The big cost to students of community college is not tuition but opportunity cost in foregone wages: in 2005-2007 many potential junior college students were working construction or otherwise making money. In 2009-2011, the opportunity cost of juco dropped sharply as jobs disappeared. Now, it's rising again.

Good point. But, also recognize that they were able to diversify their job opportunities.

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