Could health reform increase college enrollment? One study says yes.

Earlier this morning I wrote about why the new health care law increases the cost of health insurance - and what health care benefits Americans get back in return.

Eric Horowitz flags

new research suggesting that Americans aren't just gaining access to medical services. Access to dependent coverage - which the health law extends to age 26 - increases the odds of a student enrolling as a fulltime college student.

A team of researchers at Towson University looked at the relationship between access to a parent's health benefits and likelihood of attending college. Their results, published in the Economics of Education Review, control for gender, income and information about parents (like how much they earn, which could be a major factor in deciding to pursue a college degree). After all that here's their finding: "A student who is insured via her parent’s health insurance plan is 5.7 percent more likely to enroll as a fulltime student than a student without parental coverage."

The effect gets larger for the decision of whether to attend college at all, with those with parental coverage being 20.2 percent more likely to enroll as either a part- or full-time student as opposed to peers without such a plan.

The authors theorize that access to dependent coverage can make college, and the prospect of spending years without a significant income, more palatable - much in the same way federal grant programs do.  You can read an ungated draft of the paper here

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Brad Plumer · October 4, 2012