It Takes Money to Make Money: Inequity in Psychology Graduate Student Borrowing and Financial Stressors

Melanie M. Wilcox, Larissa Barbaro-Kukade, Kipp R. Pietrantonio, Danielle N. Franks, Brittan L. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Nationwide, the student debt crisis has been worsening, exacerbated by gradual changes to higher education funding since the 1980s. Recent studies (e.g., Kurz, Li, & Vine, 2018) have demonstrated that Millennials are the most educated, most student loan-indebted, and poorest (in income and wealth) generation to date. Doran, Kraha, Marks, Ameen, and El-Ghoroury (2016) similarly demonstrated that student loan debt in graduate psychology is substantial. However, Doran and colleagues’ results diverged from the extant literature in observing no between-groups demographic differences in borrowing. Thus, first, the present study sought to provide an updated view of student loan debt in graduate psychology education, and to examine changes in student loan borrowing over time. Second, we sought to expand understanding from a focus solely on cumulative debt to include financial stressors. Finally, we sought to address the discrepancies between Doran and colleagues’ study and the extant literature by examining whether psychology trainees and professionals from marginalized backgrounds are disproportionately affected by student loan debt and financial stressors. Consistent with most extant literature and contrary to Doran and colleagues, Black/African American participants and participants with lower socioeconomic status reported borrowing more, though no differences were observed by sex. Participants with lower socioeconomic status, as well as students and early career psychologists (those who received their doctorates within the last 10 years), also reported greater financial distress, and greater impacts on their personal and professional lives. Finally, student loan borrowing was shown to increase over time, even adjusting for inflation. Results and implications will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-17
Number of pages16
JournalTraining and Education in Professional Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Debt
  • Graduate education
  • Race
  • Social class
  • Student loans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'It Takes Money to Make Money: Inequity in Psychology Graduate Student Borrowing and Financial Stressors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this