Social Dimensions of Student Debt
Media commentary on undergraduates' loan debt portrays a crisis in which many students are unable to pay back their loans, having borrowed large sums and lacking sufficient post-college income to repay. Several scholars have questioned the media accounts, noting that indebtedness is highest among students from high income families, while defaults predominate among low debt students. Using a data mining technique known as CART, we analyze national data on the indebtedness of recent baccalaureate graduates, to uncover combinations of social characteristics that are associated with loan pressure: the ratio of indebtedness to post-college earnings. We find that students from lower income families who attend expensive institutions - especially for-profit colleges - accumulate high debt. In contrast to earlier scholarship, after controlling for the net cost of attending a college, we find that lower-income students face much higher loan pressure than students from more affluent families.
Witteveen, Dirk and Attewell, Paul
"Social Dimensions of Student Debt: A Data Mining Analysis,"
Journal of Student Financial Aid: Vol. 49
, Article 1.
Available at: https://ir.library.louisville.edu/jsfa/vol49/iss1/1