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My Debt? Our Debt? Class Differences in Family Financial Assistance for Graduate School

Thu, April 8, 1:00 to 2:00pm EDT (1:00 to 2:00pm EDT), SIG Sessions, SIG-Sociology of Education Roundtable Sessions


Despite the fact that graduate students account for half of the total student debt in the US, sociological research on student debt tends to focus on undergraduate students. Even within the existing research on student debt, we know little about how families are involved in mitigating students’ debt burdens. Drawing on interviews with recent graduates of master’s programs, I find key class differences in how young adults receive family financial assistance for higher education. In comparison to young adults from working-class backgrounds, those from middle-class backgrounds meet uncertainty in their family financial support for graduate school with ambivalence. Such tenuous transfers mask inequalities in young adults’ ability to finance graduate school, revealing an emerging dimension of stratification.