Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Business and Economics



First Advisor

Kenneth Troske


This dissertation studies the market for higher education and impacts of higher education policy on the market. In the first chapter, I estimate the short-run elasticity of supply of higher education using the rollout of state merit grant programs as plausibly exogenous variation in student demand for in-state higher education. I find that public and private not-for-profit four-year institutions have elastic supply responses to these programs. Public institutions have an estimated elasticity of 2.1 and private institutions have an estimated elasticity of 1.34. I estimate the causal effects of marginally qualifying for and receiving the federal Pell Grant and the Kentucky College Access (CAP) Grant on students’ academic outcomes and future labor market earnings. I leverage variation in grant receipt using a discontinuity in eligibility around the threshold for meeting the financial need criteria for these grants. I find no impact of receiving these grants on academic outcomes or earnings. The only change in student behavior that is robust is a reduction in borrowing. Finally, I develop a dynamic structural model of college investment in expanding their enrollment capacities. The model predicts that institutions pay for capacity investments by raising their list prices on all students.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)