Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Economics

Committee Chair(s)

B. Delworth Gardner


B. Delworth Gardner


Bartell C. Jensen


Herbert H. Fullerton


Richard W. Jacobs


The determination of the level of student registration fees at colleges and universities in many cases appears to be made without adequate consideration given to probable enrollment responses and to the associated implications for tuition revenues. This study was aimed at reducing this information gap at Utah State University and focused specifically on past sensitivities of students from neighboring western states to changes in the nonresident charges at USU. The analytical framework employed in this investigation specified a causal link between the proportion of the college-attending populations from these states choosing to enroll at USU and comparative tuition levels.

The empirical findings showed considerable variation among students from different states with regard to their adjustments to changes in the USU fee. These differences in sensitivities were interpreted as a reflection of the desire and ability of students to make substitutions between USU and alternative colleges in the face of these relative tuition changes. While it was expected a priori that students at different stages of their academic careers would exhibit some disparity in their responses to fee level adjustments- the study results offered no evidence that a consistent discrepancy was present. When data from the various states under consideration were aggregated and used in the estimation of enrollment response functions, the demand for admission at USU was shown to be relatively inelastic with respect to the nonresident registration charge.

The empirical results suggest that while increases in nonresident tuition levels at USU may produce greater tuition revenues due to the inelastic demand, tuition policy does represent an important determinant of aggregate enrollment patterns. Furthermore, the data show marked variations among students from different states regarding their demand elasticities, suggesting that adjustments in nonresident charges could also be expected to produce a compositional change in the USU student body. The weight given to these considerations in determining the policy for nonresident tuition at USU must reflect the management objectives of the school governing board.



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