How Much Is Too Much: Educational Loans and College Graduation

Min Zhan, Xiaoling Xiang, William Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the association between educational loans and college graduation rates, with a focus on differences by race and ethnicity. Data come from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Results from the event history analyses indicate that educational loans are positively related to college graduation rates, but only up to a point (about US$19,753). Although this nonlinear relationship holds true among White, Black, and Hispanic students, there are differences in the level of loans where its effect turns negative on graduate rates. There is little evidence overall that educational loans reduce racial and ethnic disparities in college graduation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1017
Number of pages25
JournalEducational Policy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • National Longitudinal Survey of Youth
  • college graduation
  • educational loans
  • event history analysis
  • race/ethnicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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