Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Economics

First Advisor

Tracy Mott, Ph.D.


Higher education, Student debt, Tuition cost


U.S. higher education tuition costs have risen at nearly double the rate of inflation over the past forty years. In 2012, student loan delinquency rose to 12% and surpassed credit card delinquency rates as the top category of consumer debt delinquency. Meanwhile, recently enacted federal policies advocate for increased higher education accessibility, affordability and attainability, but simultaneously promote educational institutions to increase spending with funds fueled by student debt. The growth of $136.8 billion in student loan delinquency has triggered decreasing participation in non-student debt markets by people with student loan debt. Fortunately, Americans continue to enroll in colleges at record rates, but the debt burden has become overly taxing on many students because the U.S. household income levels have remained stagnant or declined in recent years. Investing in higher education is still a wise economic decision even with increased higher education tuition rates, college graduate debt levels, and stagnant median U.S. household wages. The fundamental educational expenses associated with teaching students have not increased significantly beyond inflation over the past twenty years, yet a market failure has emerged with unrestricted institutional spending, record high student debt levels and ever-increasing tuition rates. Moving forward, federal higher education policies need to promote environments where individual university officials and state governments are encouraged to mutually work toward a common goal of long-term fiscal responsibility and educational opportunity.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

K. Harrison Maloy Jr.


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

62 p.