Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Policy and Leadership

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, viii, 305 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Alan Wagner

Committee Members

Daniel Levy, Kevin Kinser, Jason Lane


finance, graduate student, loans, non-family, non-repayable, support, Graduate students, Student loans, Student aid

Subject Categories

Education Economics | Education Policy | Higher Education


This study investigated how U.S. graduate students financed their Master’s and doctoral programs in 2011-2012. In particular, it focused on students who were eligible to receive Federal financial aid and loans during that year, using a sample of graduate students included in the restricted-use version of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. This study rests its analyses and situates extant literature largely against Human Capital Theory, with return on investment as an underlying rationale for the allocation and use of different forms of Non-family, Non-repayable support for graduate studies. The goal of the study was to sort out the extent to which Non-family, Non-repayable funds are associated with borrowing; and to identify if a relationship exists between these two funding sources. By illuminating the graduate student financial landscape in 2011-2012, the study’s findings sought to explain why some graduate students may be unduly burdened with loans upon the completion of their Master’s or doctoral programs and to determine if inequitable practices or patterns of graduate student funding exist.