The Benefits of Alternatives to Conventional College: Labor-Market Returns to Proprietary Schooling

Working Paper Number: 
WP 16-07

This paper provides novel evidence on the labor-market returns to proprietary (also called for-profit) postsecondary school attendance. Specifically, we link administrative records on proprietary school attendance with quarterly earnings data for nearly 70,000 students. Because average age at school entry is 30 years of age, and because we have earnings data for five or more years prior to attendance, we estimate a person fixed-effects model to control for time-invariant differences across individuals. By five years after entry, quarterly earnings returns are around 26 percent for men and 21-22 percent for women. Average returns are quite similar for associate’s degree programs and certificate programs, but vary substantially by field of study. Differences in return by gender are completely explained by differences in field of study.

JEL Codes: 
J24, I26

Christopher Jepsen

Kyung-Seong Jeon