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Friday, May 18 • 8:00am - 8:50am
117 How are Emerging Adults Faring with Student Loans? A Mixed Methods Study

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A college degree is an implicit social contract that education leads to increased opportunities and entrance to the middle class. Repaying student loans is challenge for many suggesting that the education-success pathway represents a broken social contract. If the benefits of a college education no longer offer a secure investment, do young adults think higher education is worth taking on debt and is this reflected in their measures of satisfaction? Using a convergent parallel mixed methods approach (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2018) using longitudinal data, we begin to answer this question. Both qualitative and quantitative data was collected simultaneously, analyzed separately, and then merged. A qualitative analysis of participants’ narrative responses to an open-ended question reflecting both their educational experience as well as perceived value of a debt-financed education. A separate quantitative analysis examined group differences. The two datasets were merged first by transforming the qualitative results into numeric responses to mix with the quantitative data to identify the factors that differentiated among participants who thought student loans were worth the investment, not worth the investment, or not a factor using. Although there was a general negative valence towards accumulating school loan debt to finance education, the respondents did not communicate a desire to abdicate their financial obligations; instead they advocated for the next generation to be wary and smart. Efforts should be made to both ensure that new students know what they are committing to and to help those emerging adults who now are facing significant financial barriers to their future success.

avatar for Sarah Burcher

Sarah Burcher

Graduate Student, University of Minnesota

Friday May 18, 2018 8:00am - 8:50am
Island 1

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