Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Martha Copp

Committee Members

Leslie A. McCallister, Scott H. Beck


Through in-depth interviews with 21 participants, this thesis investigates how graduate students at East Tennessee State University feel about their finances. Although all adults, by necessity, have everyday money concerns, this study explores the unique experiences that post-baccalaureate students have with debt, how they talk about it, and what meanings they attach to student loans in their daily lives. This study is novel in that little research to date has examined how graduate students' perceptions of adulthood are connected to their financial situations and their stage in life. For example, saving money is important to this population mainly because it signifies the achievement of adulthood. Debt, on the other hand, signifies dependence and questionable adult status. Although graduate students' future incomes will vary, they share similar strategies for managing the stigma of debt.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.