Publication Date

July 2005


[Excerpt] This study takes a political-economic perspective to examine predictors of revenue variation in U.S. community colleges using the IPEDS 2000 Finance Survey data. Descriptive analyses of the IPEDS data indicate it is common for colleges at the 90th percentile of a state’s revenue distribution to have twice the per student resources as colleges at the 10th percentile. Ordinary least square regression results indicate progressive funding explains 7% of the revenue variation. Colleges serving higher proportions of students with financial need have higher revenues relative to other colleges in their states. Colleges located outside urban areas have revenues 13% to 18% higher than those in large cities, controlling for enrollment size and the proportion of part-time students. These findings, which explain 28% of revenue variation, may indicate differences in entrepreneurial revenue capacity or political compromises that “level up” spending to all legislative districts irrespective of student need. An urban community college research agenda is proposed to examine the political-economic mechanisms that create funding disparities.


Suggested Citation
Dowd, A. C. (2006) Community college revenue disparities: What accounts for an urban college deficit? (CHERI Working Paper #74). Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

Required Publisher Statement
Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, Cornell University.