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Research has established the benefits of higher education and the importance of affordability, however less is known about how the availability of higher education affects educational attainment. By constructing a comprehensive dataset on college openings in the U.S. from 1969 to 1991, I show that exogenous variation in two-year and four-year college availability, caused by changed birth cohort sizes and local college openings, substantially affects educational attainment. New four-year colleges increase the likelihood of obtaining a Bachelor's degree, while new two-year colleges only affect Associate's degree attainment. Additionally, results show that students from larger cohorts are crowded out of four-year colleges. This crowd-out results in lower lifetime educational attainment by pushing students to two-year colleges.


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