The Effect of Price Shocks on Undocumented Students’ College Attainment and Completion
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This article examines the effect of a price shock caused by the temporary removal of in-state tuition benefits on the attainment of undocumented immigrants enrolled in a large urban college system using a difference in-differences identification strategy. The 113 percent one-semester tuition increase led to an 8 percent decrease in reenrollment and a similarly sized reduction in credit accumulation. Furthermore, students who entered college the semester prior to the price shock experienced lasting reductions in attainment, including a 22 percent decrease in degree receipt. Conversely, among students who were enrolled for at least a year, the price shock only affected the timing of college exit. The results suggest that public subsidies that lower college prices can increase degree completion among resource-constrained students who have made the decision to enroll in college, with larger benefits accruing to those who are early in their college careers.