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12. As Mary Nguyen showed in a 2012 study on how students balance debt, they are often involved in a “complex calculation, and students may not always make the best choices. Some students may borrow the entire cost of college, including living expenses, as a means of successfully earning a degree, only to default on loans that are too large to repay. Other students might not borrow enough money, taking on so much remunerative work that they don’t devote enough time to their studies and end up dropping out. . . . risk factors among non-­borrowers who dropped out were substantially higher than those among borrowers who dropped out, with almost three times as many non-­borrowers enrolled part time their first year and then dropped out. The presence of these risk factors is often cited by colleges as an excuse for high student loan default rates, which are used by federal regulators to judge whether programs should be eligible for federal student aid. But it’s important to note that these risk factors are not static traits. . . . they are behaviors, choices that students make, in significant part, in response to college prices. If colleges weren’t so expensive, they wouldn’t have as many working students with some combination of debt and work-­related risk factors for dropping out” (n.p.).

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