How Does Undergraduate Debt Affect Graduate School Application and Enrollment?

Research in Higher Education / September 2020

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This study estimates the short- and long-term effects of undergraduate educational debt on students' decisions to apply and to enroll in graduate school after completing requirements for a baccalaureate degree, using marginal mean weighting through stratification method (MMW-S) to analyze data from the National Center for Education Statistics Baccalaureate and Beyond 2008–2012 (B&B 08-12) survey. Although the authors find that historically and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups tend to accumulate higher levels of educational debt, their results indicate minimal effects of undergraduate debt on graduation school application and enrollment. The authors find no differences by race/ethnicity, family income, or status as a first-generation baccalaureate recipient in the effects of educational debt on graduate school application or enrollment.