The Affordable Care Act and college enrollment decisions

Author/Creator ORCID




Towson University. Department of Economics


Citation of Original Publication

Juergen Jung & Vinish Shrestha, 2016. "The Affordable Care Act and College Enrollment Decisions," Working Papers 2016-16, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised May 2017.



We investigate the effect of the extension of the federal dependent coverage man- date for young adults under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the college enrollment decisions of young Americans. The ACA removes the conditionality that young indi- viduals need to be enrolled as full-time students in order to be able to remain on their parents’ health insurance past the age of 18 and extends the coverage mandate to age 26 irrespective of student status. This expansion of the coverage mandate changes the incentives for the full-time and part-time college enrollment decisions of young individ- uals. We use panel data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) for the years 2003–2013 and estimate that the dependent coverage expansion under the ACA decreases the probability to enroll as full-time student by 2 to 3 percentage points. Furthermore we find that part-time college enrollment is unaffected by the new policy. The results from a difference-in-differences model are robust to changes in the model specification and become stronger when we increase the sample overlap between treatment and control groups using trimming based on propensity scores.