The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type




Degree Name

Higher Education Administration: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Jennifer Jones

Second Advisor

Steven McCullar

Third Advisor

Emeka Ikegwuono

Fourth Advisor

Nora Morris

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Student Institutional Debt Retention Student Success Debt Relief


Higher education costs have risen dramatically over the last forty years, leaving many students unable to pay the total cost, even after aid is applied. This results in outstanding debt to the institution they attend. This outstanding institutional debt leads to registration, and transcript holds, resulting in students' inability to continue pursuing their educational goals. Research has shown that students with outstanding institutional debt are twenty-five times less likely to persist. This study aimed to determine if there was a correlational relationship between institutional debt relief and success, with success defined as graduating, re-enrolling, or transferring during the three terms after the debt payoff. As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Higher Education institutions had the opportunity to use grant dollars to relieve students of debt accumulated during the pandemic. I use logistic regression modeling in this quantitative correlational study to predict the relationship between debt payoff status and success. Results suggest that even when a student’s outstanding debt is relieved using grants, they continue to encounter a decreased likelihood of success. My study also sought to determine if there was a correlational relationship between certain demographics such as age, gender, socioeconomic level, debt payoff, and success. This study contributed to the limited research by scholars attempting to understand the ramifications of outstanding institutional debt for students. My study also provides valuable data that may help administrators develop equitable policies relating to past-due student accounts.



This journey would not have been possible without the expertise, encouragement, patience, and persistence of many individuals in my educational, professional, and personal lives. To begin with, I would like to thank Dr. Jones, who, as my advisor and committee chair, provided me with guidance during the dissertation process and throughout my years at Saint Cloud State University. Every recommendation Dr. Jones made improved my writing and research abilities; I am very grateful. I would also like to thank the other members of my committee, Dr. McCullar, Dr. Ikegwuono, and Dr. Morris, who had individual and collective recommendations that moved my process along and helped me look at things in a more thorough and scholarly manner.

I want to thank Dr. Shari Jorissen, who patiently guided me through the quantitative studies aspect of my dissertation. Dr. Jorissen’s generosity in sharing her expertise in logistic regression and the use of SPSS was invaluable. In addition, her unique understanding of the community and technical college spaces provided research insight that continually improved my study.

I truly thank my husband Mario, who encouraged me throughout my studies to excel and be my very best, to never give up and to stay focused to achieve my goal. Mario always brings out a better version of me than I could ever imagine. Lastly, I would like to thank my family, who have always been by my side during the successes and the personal and medical challenges I have endured.



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