Rong Chen (Seton Hall University) serves as principal investigator and Peter Riley Bahr is coprimary investigator for this project.
Since the reauthorization of the Federal Higher Education Act in 1992, federal financial aid has shifted significantly away from grants toward loans. Scholars and policy-makers are increasingly concerned about historically disadvantaged students’ greater risk of accumulating excessive college debt, and the possible unintended consequences of undergraduate indebtedness in their decision to go to graduate school. In this study, the researchers will examine how undergraduate debt affects students’ decisions to enroll in graduate school, using propensity score techniques to account for student self-selection into levels of educational indebtedness. Their analysis will disaggregate by levels of graduate education, field of study, and selected student characteristics. Through this study, the researchers will accomplish two primary goals, including: (1) extending and improving research on financial aid as it pertains to graduate education; (2) untangling the differential effects of college debt on graduate school enrollment across different student subgroups.