Wealth begets wealth, and this is perhaps most obvious when it comes to higher education in America. Many of the most straightforward paths to wealth accumulation require the credentials and skills that postsecondary education provides; however, earning such degrees often comes at great financial cost. For many, especially those not coming from generational wealth, it results in student loan debt that weighs on individuals and families for years, even decades.
This report by Cook Center faculty affiliate Dr. Fenaba R. Addo explores the complex and cyclical relationship between family wealth, educational debt, and wealth accumulation–and the racial and ethnic disparities contained therein. It then provides a summary of the strengths and limitations of existing datasets and outlines what the ideal dataset for studying this relationship would look like.