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Authors: Cohen, Jeremy
Advisors: Wherry, Frederick
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: Family
Higher Education
Student Debt
Young Adulthood
Subjects: Sociology
Higher education
Education finance
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Debt is a pervasive aspect of the funding of higher education in the United States, and its role has only become more central over time. By the third quarter of 2021, the total value of all student loans owned and securitized in the United States exceeded $1.75 trillion dollars. This dissertation investigates how debt shapes the early years after college as well as what debt reveals about family supports for higher education. Chapter 1 uses nationally representative survey data to understand the relationship between debt and early occupational careers, while considering students’ initial occupational expectations. Chapters 2 and 3 use data from the first round of a longitudinal interview study with recent college graduates, all of whom financed their undergraduate educations with student debt. Chapter 2 asks what role debt, along with other factors, plays in shaping pathways to graduate school. Chapter 3 asks what role siblings play in helping college students to success in and beyond college. The findings of the three chapters indicate: (1) that debt is associated with students ending up in post-college occupations that are better-paying, less risky, and that are more likely to require a bachelor’s degree than their peers, although these occupations are also less likely to have high future earnings growth; (2) that while first-generation college students seem to be able to access master’s degrees with relative ease, they may struggle to enter professional programs with higher returns; and (3) that siblings provide both advice and—in certain circumstances—direct financial supports for college, while at the same time shaping the supports that parents offer for both good and ill. The results have implications for our understandings of the role that debt and family play in the lives of recent college graduates.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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