Illinois Study: Family Debt Affects Ability to Graduate College

June 19, 2014

(Undated)  --  Family financial “smarts” may be just as important as "book smarts" when it comes to a student’s ability to finish college. A new study from the University of Illinois suggests that family debt diminishes a student's prospects of graduating from college. Social work professor Min Zhan says their research found students from higher-income families are more likely to earn degrees, but the association between income and graduation rates lost its statistical significance when family assets and debt were factored in.  The study also found debt had a greater negative impact on graduation rates for black students than white students. Zhan says one reason for the discrepancy is that the debt-to-asset ratio was 50-percent higher among black families, meaning on average, they are shouldering a much heavier financial burden.

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