Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Project Type


College or School




Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Aziz Saglam


This paper examines the determinants of average student debt in New England based on financial, institutional and demographic variables. The dataset is derived from CollegeInsight and measures 15 variables across 71 institutions during the 2011-2014 academic school years. Between 2011 and 2014, average student debt increased 7%, tuition and room and board increased 10%, the percentage of Hispanic students increased 20% and the percentage of international students increased 26%. The estimated model, ln(AVDEBT) = 7.401 – 0.090ln(TUITION) – 0.042ln(BOOKS) + 0.433ln(ROOMBOARD) + 0.07ln(ENROLLMENT) – 0.200PUBLIC – 4.106ASIAN – 1.992AFAMERICAN + 0.254HISPANIC + 0.007WHITE + 0.641INTERNATIONAL – 0.676PERCENTFEDDEBT + 1.018PERCENTPELL, indicates that the primary determinants of average student debt in the region are: room and board costs, enrollment, public vs. private classification, the percentage of Asian, African American and international students, the percentage of student debt that comes from federal loans and the percentage of Pell Grant recipients. Other regions in the country could leverage a similar study to understand where the student debt burden is most likely coming from. The resulting information can stir policy discussions amongst institutions and governmental organizations to decrease the burden and ease the so-called student debt crisis.

Included in

Economics Commons