Publication Date



Rising college student debt levels have recently received considerable media coverage and have even been the topic of policy proposals that link rising student debt with tuition inflation. This paper examines the role that tuition, financial aid policies, and academic outcomes play in determining variation in average student debt levels across higher education institutions. A focus solely on tuition as the culprit in rising student debt misses the significant role that financial aid policies and student outcomes play in determining debt levels across non-profit higher education institutions. Specifically, being need-blind in admissions, meeting-full-need, limiting loans, and graduating students in high paying majors can have a larger impact on student debt levels than simply the cost of attendance.


Suggested Citation
Monks, J. (2012). The role of tuition, financial aid policies, and student outcomes on average student debt [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations site:

Required Publisher Statement
Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, ILR School, Cornell University.