Nicole Sarette

University of New Hampshire



Mentor: Dr. Cliff Brown,  Department of Sociology

The Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Students’ Attitudes Toward Student Debt

The main concern of this paper is how lower socioeconomic status young people feel towards taking out student loans in order to attend higher education, and how their experiences with debt are affecting them. In light of the political and public conversations surrounding student debt today, this study is making an examination of what factors are influencing students' attitudes toward taking out debt in order to pursue higher education. As national enrollment rates drop yearly and national debt reaches $1.6 trillion, how students’ perceive student loans, and their debt will affect how we approach higher education in future policies on debt forgiveness, interest rates, and student debt refinancing. It could also give great insight into if more government funding for public education may be helpful in order to help students of different socioeconomic backgrounds reach academic success. Many of today's youth are choosing to either delay college or avoid higher education altogether to avoid debt, especially lower SES students who have the lowest rates of college attendance. This study’s data will consist of answers collected from an online survey completed by UNH students, as well as interview data from students who have been interviewed virtually. The literature on this topic has led me to hypothesize that low SES students will be more debt averse and see taking out loans as more of a burden on their future than an investment.


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