One of the ATS partner divinity schools did a comprehensive survey to learn more about the financial realities of their students. Here are some of their findings:
- Length of time to degree completion does not appear to significantly affect debt levels (though we had a very small sample on this question).
- Students over 31 years of age were significantly (almost 3x) more likely to borrow high levels of debt (over $50k).
- Underrepresented minorities (Hispanics, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, or those with two or more races) were significantly more likely to report high levels of debt ($50k or more).
- Married/Partnered students were significantly more likely to report no debt when compared to students who are single, separated, or divorced.
- Students with dependents were more likely to report high levels of debt (over $50k) compared to their peers with zero dependents.
- Whether a student owns or rents their residence did not have a significant effect on debt levels.
- Students who lived with roommates and shared expenses were significantly less likely to report high levels of debt (over $50k) when compared to students who live alone.
- Respondents with high levels of debt (over $50k) indicated they expect a higher salary than their low debt peers.
- Over 50% of respondents indicate they have zero consumer debt, and the vast majority (83%) of those with consumer debt indicate that the debt is under $20,000.
- 44% of respondents plan to be bi-vocational following graduation.
- 76% agree or strongly agree that they will be able to repay their debt.
- 65.6% indicate that their level of debt is acceptable or very acceptable.
- 77% of respondents plan to use a standard loan repayment plan, 42% plan to use PAYE or income based repayment plans, and 8% either have no plan for repayment or do not plan to repay.
- Students with high debt (over $50k) are significantly less likely than their lower-debt peers to indicate that their level of debt is acceptable when considering the quality of the graduate education received.
I think it raises interesting questions about segments of the populace who are financially vulnerable.