For whom the bills pile: An equity frame for an equity problem

Melanie M. Lantz, Brittan L. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Student loan debt associated with doctoral psychology education is a serious problem, and the recent study by Doran, Kraha, Marks, Ameen, and El-Ghoroury (2016) represents an important step in recognizing the significant student loan burden that professional psychology students and early career psychologists (ECPs) are facing. Although there were some differences by degree program and type, students across subfields and degrees were burdened with high levels of debt (Doran et al., 2016). Notably, significant dispersion was evidenced across subfields and degree types, making it difficult to generalize from the reported averages. Additionally, they did not collect data on socioeconomic status (SES), and while they noted observing no significant between-group differences by race and gender, we demonstrate how such between-group differences may have been obfuscated. Available data suggest that between-group differences do exist by race, gender, SES, and further by intersectional marginalized identities (e.g., higher borrowing by women of color than White women). We suggest that taking an equity, rather than equality, approach to student funding may ameliorate disparities in student loan borrowing. Through this commentary, we aim to (a) further clarify what student debt loads mean for individuals on a monthly basis; (b) use existing data to highlight disparities in student loan distribution, that is, that women, students of color, and students from lower SES backgrounds generally borrow more to finance their education; (c) address the implications of student loan disparities for the field of psychology; and (d) describe and recommend aspiring to an equity, rather than an equality, approach to distribution of resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-173
Number of pages8
JournalTraining and Education in Professional Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Commentary
  • Debt
  • Graduate education
  • Student loans
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychology(all)


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