Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Sheena Kauppila

Second Advisor

Candace Howell

Third Advisor

Heather Hoppe


The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted enrollment, a continuation of the decline ongoing since 2010. Two-year colleges are highly dependent on tuition revenue. Consequently, the pandemic exacerbated the postsecondary economic crisis, as 2-year institutions faced financial hardship amidst enrollment uncertainties. In response to the pandemic, policymakers and 2-year college leaders adapted their enrollment management efforts. However, the impact of these actions on enrollment was unknown. Using resource dependence theory, the present study aimed to understand how COVID-19 influenced 2-year colleges' acquisition of their most sustainable resource, enrollment. Separate multiple linear regression analyses explored the influence of four enrollment management efforts (shift to remote instruction, return to in-person instruction, emergency relief aid, and tuition incentives) on total 12-month enrollment using populations of public and for-profit 2-year institutions; while simultaneously controlling for student demographics, institutional characteristics, and environmental impact. The analysis demonstrated that tuition incentives and emergency relief aid positively influenced enrollment during the 2020-2021 academic year among public 2-year institutions. Comparatively, the for-profit 2-year sector was impervious to all enrollment management efforts, as increased tuition rates contributed the most influence. Across both sectors, female enrollment and rural campus location negatively influenced total enrollment. Study findings have implications for policy and practice initiatives rooted in college affordability and the initiation of support services, particularly those which address basic needs insecurity and closure of the digital divide. Moreover, this study demonstrates a need for increased accountability in the for-profit sector.