NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Gainfully Employed? Assessing the Employment and Earnings of For-Profit College Students Using Administrative Data

Stephanie Riegg Cellini, Nicholas Turner

NBER Working Paper No. 22287
Issued in May 2016
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies

We draw on population-level administrative data from the U.S. Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service to quantify the impact of for-profit college attendance on the employment and earnings of over 1.4 million students. We characterize both the within-student earnings effects and joint distributions of earnings effects and increases in student debt. Our descriptive analysis of degree-seeking students suggests that on average associate’s and bachelor’s degree students experience a decline in earnings after attendance, relative to their own earnings in years prior to attendance. Master’s degree students and students who complete their degrees appear to experience better outcomes, with positive earnings effects. Our difference-in-difference analysis of certificate students suggests that despite the much higher costs of attendance, earnings effects are smaller in the for-profit sector relative to the effects for comparable students in public community colleges—a result that holds for all but one of the top ten fields of study. In absolute terms, we find no evidence of improved earnings post-enrollment for students in any of the top ten for-profit fields and we can rule out that average effects are driven by a few low-performing institutions.

download in pdf format
   (1483 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22287

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Lang and Weinstein w18201 Evaluating Student Outcomes at For-Profit Colleges
Cellini, Darolia, and Turner w22967 Where Do Students Go when For-Profit Colleges Lose Federal Aid?
Stevens, Kurlaender, and Grosz w21137 Career Technical Education and Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from California Community Colleges
Deming, Goldin, and Katz w17710 The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?
Cellini and Chaudhary w18343 The Labor Market Returns to a For-Profit College Education
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us