Effects of College Educational Debt on Graduate School Attendance and Early Career and Life Choices
28 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2006 Last revised: 6 Aug 2011
Date Written: December 2010
This paper examines how college educational debt affects various post-baccalaureate decisions of bachelor’s degree recipients. I employ the Baccalaureate and Beyond 93/97 survey data. Using college aid policies as instrumental variables to correct for the endogeneity of student college debt level, I find that for public college graduates, college debt has a negative and significant effect on graduate school attendance. This negative effect is concentrated on more costly programs associated with doctoral, MBA and first professional degrees, and debt has no effect on the choice of a Master’s program. For private college students, debt does not have an effect on the overall graduate school attendance, but this absence of effect conceals the differential effects of debt on different graduate programs – debt has a positive and significant effect on the choice of an MBA or first professional program and zero effect on other programs. For both public and private college students, debt has no effects on early career choices such as salary and sector of occupation, or marital status and homeownership.
Keywords: college debt, graduate school, early career and lifestyle choices, instrumental variables estimation
JEL Classification: H52, I22, I28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation