Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Meredith Redlin


differential tuition, higher education funding, higher education pricing, state support of higher education


Public higher education in the United States has seen many changes since the Morrill Act of 1862. Specifically, the funding of higher education has changed greatly over the last half century, from very low tuition and relatively high state subsidies to an increased reliance on tuition to fund higher education. While this funding change has been the national trend, the impact on specific states and universities has varied greatly. This study examines the funding variation between university peers, normalized using state general funds per resident student FTE, to analyze the variation of state funding between states as well as the differences in annual volatility. In addition, this study assesses the use of differential tuition for a case study university in relation to changes in state funding. Finally, this study examines which variables impact the use of differential tuition on undergraduate programs. Survey data from eight institutions were analyzed to study the variations and annual changes in state support funding. Additionally, historical pricing and state funding data were used to analyze the impacts of state funding changes on the use of differential tuition. Finally, regression analysis was used to test if theories of cost-based pricing and consumer surplus could be used to explain the use of differential tuition at the case study university. This study found that state support per resident state support student FTE vary greatly by university and that changes in funding can vary widely from year to year. Additionally, the analysis found a correlation between decreases in state funding and an increased use of differential pricing of undergraduate programs. Finally, the regression analysis indicated that theories of cost-based pricing and consumer surplus explained a significant portion of the implementation and variation in differential pricing at the case study university.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Public universities and colleges -- Finance.
Higher education and state.
Government aid to higher education.
College costs.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 85-90)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright