Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

William Lincoln

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© 2017 Kathleen E Kuosman


Since the creation of Federally subsidized loans in the late 1950s, trends in higher education have been characterized by exorbitant increases in tuition costs and student loan debt. I frame the analysis of this thesis by first synthesizing current theory on factors that are driving increases in tuition costs. Using Common Data Set data, I explore trends in tuition costs within the past decade and examine the impact of changes in student borrowing behavior on rates of application at top-tier liberal arts colleges and flagship universities. I find that tuition costs are increasing at rates that outpace GDP and CPI measures, but only marginally so. I also find that changes in parent loan borrowing and all other loan borrowing are statistically significant, but not economically significant, in their effect on application rates. I conclude by discussing the implications of my results and potential for future research.

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