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Net Tuition, Unmet Financial Need, and Cooling Out: A National Study of Degree Aspirations Among First-Time Community College Students

Author(s): Cameron Sublett, Jason L. Taylor

Publisher: Community College Review (CCR)

Year: 2021

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This study examined the statistical association between net tuition and changes in degree aspirations among community college students. In addition, the study explored the moderating influence of unmet financial need.

Analyses relied on data from the most recent iteration of the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study. Estimates were derived from a series of robust multinomial models controlling for student, institutional, and state-level covariates.

Net tuition was consistently associated with decreased risks of experiencing a “cool out,” regardless of model specification. Yet, this main effect of net tuition was moderated by unmet need, such that net tuition increased cool out risks among students with greater unmet need.

The results of this study suggest that net reductions in tuition alone may not fully reduce or eliminate barriers to college access and student success. Future financial aid policies should focus on the full cost of college attendance.

Last Updated: 8/23/21