Asset Building Financial Inclusion Working Paper

The Impact of Youth Debt on College Graduation

This study examines the associations between educational loans and credit card debt with the possibility of college graduation among a group of youth who enrolled in college. It further investigates whether the associations differ by levels of parental assets. Results indicate that, after parental assets and other variables are considered, educational loans are positively related to college graduation; however, there is evidence that educational loans above $10,000 reduce the probability of college graduation. Parental assets are positively linked to youth’s college graduation, and the relationship between educational loans and college graduation is stronger among youth whose families have lower levels of financial assets. Credit card debt is positively related to college graduation only among families with modest financial assets. Policy implications are discussed.

Subsequent publication: Zhan, M. (2014) The impact of youth debt on college graduation. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 41(3), 133–156.

Project: College Success


Zhan, M. (2012). The impact of youth debt on college graduation (CSD Working Paper No. 12-11). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.