Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Graduate School


Public Policy and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Eugenia F. Toma


Public higher education has evolved over time under the control of each individual state. The public system in each state is made up of distinctive types of institutions that together provide higher education in different formats. Public institutions may largely be classified into three groups based on the level of education provided including community colleges, regional institutions, and research universities. While the institutions employed are largely the same in each state, the extent to which each is utilized and the support given reflect the individual characteristics of the state.

This dissertation examines appropriations and enrollments by state and year in three classifications of universities: research universities, regional universities, and community colleges. The appropriations and enrollments in regional and community settings are measured relative to the same for research universities. The explanatory variables are political, economic, and demographic variables relevant in state finance to the allocation of state budgets.

There are three empirical chapters. The first uses Granger causality concepts to examine whether appropriations and enrollment have strong predictive effects on each other in the following year. Enrollment has no such effect on appropriations, while there is a weak effect the other way. The second chapter studies relative appropriations, finding that the proportion of appropriations allocated to regional institutions has remained consistent, while states have proportionally shifted toward community colleges. The third chapter studies enrollment, which is very stable for regional universities and has shifted toward community colleges relative to research universities. Again, political and economic factors are somewhat different in these models.

Examining year effects net of economics and politics, there are no such effects on appropriations; but for enrollment, regional universities grew somewhat relative to research universities in the earlier years (1986 to 1993), and community colleges grew throughout the period with pauses. The Great Recession is clearly visible in community college enrollments, growing as usual during an economic downturn.

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