The University Record, July 23, 2001

Loans don’t deter graduate students

By Lesley Harding
News and Information Services

Graduate students are paying the price for an education, no matter the cost. A new study, led by Donald E. Heller, assistant professor of education, found that the amount a student has to borrow has little or no bearing on whether that student enrolls in graduate school.

“Academic characteristics, in particular their degree expectations, choice of major and grade point average, are the most influential factors in predicting graduate school enrollment,” Heller says.

The study, “Debts and Decisions: Student Loans and Their Relationship to Graduate School and Career Choices,” was funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education.

The findings are based on data from the U.S. Department of Education’s “Baccalaureate and Beyond” survey of approximately 11,000 students from the 1992–93 academic year.

Heller also found that 50 percent of all graduates borrowed just to finance their undergraduate schooling.

The average loan after completing a four-year degree is about $10,000. Students who go on to borrow for their graduate degrees carry average loan balances of about $25,000—$57,000 for those who get a professional degree.