Racial Differences in the Effect of Family Debt on College Student Success

university-of-illinois-billiard-logoResearchers at the University of Illinois have published a study that finds that family debt is a major factor in diminishing the likelihood that students will graduate from college. The results show that family debt is a particular barrier for Black students seeking a college degree.

Researchers examined the graduation rates of students who entered college between the years 2000 and 2004. They compared graduation data with household assets and debt levels at the time students entered college and when they should have graduated.

Min Zhan, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois and a co-author of the study, stated, “Family assets are positively related to college graduation for both Black and White students, but family debt has a negative impact on Black students’ chances of graduating. The magnitude of the association indicates that family debt hurts Black students’ chances of graduating much more than it hurts White students’ chances of graduating. The overall debt-to-assets ratio was much higher – nearly 50 percent higher – among Black families than White families, which may explain why debt had a stronger negative impact on Black students.”

The article, “The Impact of Family Assets and Debt on College Graduation,” has been published on the website of the journal Children and Youth Services Review. It may be accessed here.

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