NPR Highlights Study Showing Student Loans May Boost Community College Student Attainment

November 21, 2018

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Title: The Benefits of Taking Out Loans for College

Study authors: Lesley J. Turner and Benjamin M. Marx

Source: National Public Radio

A recent segment on NPR’s Morning Edition highlights the benefits of student loans for community college students.

In a segment that aired Nov. 14, NPR hosts spoke with Lesley Turner of the University of Maryland, who last year authored a study with Benjamin Marx of University of Illinois that used a randomized experiment to assess the consequences of borrowing for community college students.

The researchers found that community college students whose financial aid award letters included a student loan offer of $3,500 or $4,500 not only borrowed more than students whose aid letters did not include a loan offer, but also attempted more courses, completed more credits, earned higher GPAs, and were more likely to transfer to a four-year institution.

Turner speculates that borrowing likely improved students’ course-taking, attainment, and transfer outcomes because students who borrowed could afford to spend less time working while enrolled in college.

Turner and Marx’s findings illustrate the educational benefits of college loans in certain circumstances and underscore that the financial strains many community college students endure during college can harm their academic performance. The results also show how small differences in the information and financial choices presented to students can make a big difference in their borrowing behaviors and educational outcomes.

—Sam Imlay

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