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This dissertation examines three examples of education policy that affect students' decision-making at three different stages of the academic career.

In the first chapter, I examine how grant aid can affect the re-enrollment and graduation rates of bachelor's degree-seeking students. I use administrative data from the State of Maryland to study the state's largest need-based grant aid program using a regression discontinuity design. I find positive effects of grant receipt on re-enrollment beginning in the second year and a 10% increase in the rate of persistence to the fourth year, with similar-sized, but more imprecise effects on graduation within 5 years of entry.

In the second chapter, I study State Loan Repayment Programs which pay down a physician's medical school debt in exchange for a period of service in a health care provider shortage area. I gather data from individual states on the amounts that their programs offer over time and use changes in designations of health care provider shortage areas to implement a generalized differences-in-differences strategy. I find no overall effect of the programs on the physician-to-population ratio of an area eligible for the program, though I do find evidence of a positive effect on the physician-to-population ratio when I focus on the age group where physicians are most likely to be recent medical school graduates.

In the third chapter, I examine the effect of high school Career and Technical Education coursework completion on postsecondary enrollment, degree completion, and early career earnings. I utilize two estimation strategies. The first is a propensity score matching approach and the second is an instrumental variables approach based on the distance between a student's high school and a CTE Center that offers the coursework. The two strategies generally find that CTE is associated with a substitution from four-year programs to two-year programs, and positive effects on early career earnings.