•  
  •  
 

Abstract

With the notable shift from grants to loans over the past several decades, many researchers have argued the positive impact of financial aid on student college choice, enrollment, and persistence. However, literature indicates that students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to take loans to finance postsecondary education than those from affluent conditions. Qualitative research on the reasons for non-borrowers’ aversion to loans and strategies for college payment is rather scant. This study explores 30 lower- or lower-middle-class non-borrowing students’ lived experiences surrounding student loans from a qualitative phenomenological research lens. Data are collected from semi-structured interviews. Data analysis shows four main reasons that the participants generally avoid borrowing as they decide where to attend and how to pay for college: parental influence, fear of economic burden, underestimation of the value of college education, and lack of information about the loan system. The strategies they employ for college payment include scholarships and grants, family support, part-time jobs, and prepaid college tuition programs. This study uses peer debriefing to ensure its trustworthiness. Limitations of this study and implications for future research and practice are discussed.

Share

COinS