Publication Date



This study examines the influence of family financial assets and debt, both measured during the time of youth’s college enrollment, on the chances of college graduation. Data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Results from analyses controlling for a number of student, parental, and institutional characteristics indicate that family assets are positively related to the chances of college graduation among White and Black students; family debt is negatively associated with the odds of college graduation among Black students, but neither family assets nor family debt is related to the chances of college graduation among Hispanic students. Overall, results indicate that family assets and debt explain a small portion of racial/ethnic gaps in college graduation. Policy implications are considered.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Asset Building

Original Citation

Zhan, M., & Lanesskog, D. (2013). The impact of family assets and debt on college graduation (CSD Working Paper No. 13-36). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


College Success


academic achievement, assets, college degree attainment, debt, income, race, college savings, college enrollment, college debt