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Timing Matters: Examining the Earnings Trajectories of Delayed College Enrollees

Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) Annual Conference
March 15, 2018
Portland, OR

Presenters described a study comparing outcomes for students who enroll in college immediately after high school versus those who delay their college enrollment. Using administrative transcript data, National Student Clearinghouse data, and quarterly earnings data, the presenters examined two research questions:

  1. Who are the students that delay college enrollment?
  2. How do labor market outcomes before, during, and after enrollment differ between delayers and on-time enrollees? 

Preliminary results show that delayers earn slightly more than on-time enrollees immediately following high school graduation. Yet the earnings of on-time enrollees become higher and grow faster in about three years for students who start at a community college starters and in about four years for students who start at a four-year institution. The results have clear policy implications: Delayed enrollment is associated with negative college completion rates and earning trajectories.

Associated Papers


Associate Director, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Program Support
City University of New York
Yuxin Lin
Associate Director of Research and Policy Analysis
Maryland Higher Education Commission