Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell Williams

Committee Member

Tony Perez

Committee Member

Alan Schwitzer


The community college mission has long included open access through low tuition (Vaughan, 2006). Financial challenges for community college students threaten open access (Shannon & Smith, 2006). Paying tuition plays a part in a student’s ability to graduate. A community colleges’ success is measured in part by graduation rates. President Obama challenged all colleges, including community colleges, to increase their graduation rates 50% by the year 2020 (Obama, 2009). The current study analyzed whether public, community colleges’ tuitions predicted their graduation rates using recent data and if size of enrollment moderated the relations between tuition and graduation rate. A two-block, hierarchical regression analysis was used for the current study. This study controlled for size of enrollment, percentage of students receiving Pell Grants or other federal grants, percentage of students receiving loans, and percentage of students from non-dominant groups. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data from 2012 were used for the present study. The goal of this study is to inform state and federal policy makers as well as community college leaders and practitioners and, also, fill the gap in knowledge for researchers concerning the question of whether tuition predicts community college graduation rate community colleges especially in the context of size of enrollment.