Commissioned Research

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



graduate schools, professional schools, student loans, financial aid


There is wide variation in how students cover tuition and living expenses while they pursue graduate and professional degrees. Most research doctoral degree students attending public and private nonprofit schools benefit from generous institutional fellowships and assistant ships that cover a significant portion of their expenses. But master’s degree students in all sectors cover most of their expenses with earnings from employment and federal student loans. Borrowing is particularly important for professional degree students, most of whom have neither earnings from employment during the academic year nor grants and fellowships to cover tuition and living expenses while they are enrolled. This brief reviews borrowing patterns and trends among advanced degree students, disaggregating by demographic characteristics as well as type of program and institutional sector.