The number of students in Swedish higher education has not only increased dramatically over the past twenty years, the students have also become poorer. At a general level, we know that the sums from the student aid system does not sufficiently cover the students’ living expenses, but we do not know where in the Swedish education landscape and for which groups the received student aid is particularly inadequate. In this project, we examine the students’ use of funds from the student aid system but also their incomes from various sources as well as their inherited and acquired wealth. In other words, the students’ whole economic situation is under study. That is, the material preconditions for free and rational choices within the educational system (cf. SOU 2008:69, Choose free and choose right: incentives for rational educational choices [Välja fritt och välja rätt: drivkrafter för rationella utbildningsval]).

The project consists of three parts. The first study identifies how different types of financial resources are distributed throughout the higher education landscape, the second examines how economic resources (or lack thereof) is related to drop-outs from higher education and in the third study we analyse—for a strategic selection of social groups—the relations between economic resources and educational choices within higher education. We are also interested in how financial assets (loans, wage, wealth) interact with educational assets (grades, etc.), and how all this has changed between 1998 and 2006.

The project is financed by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet). Project members: Martin Gustavsson (Project Manager), Andreas Melldahl, Donald Broady and Carina Carlhed (all three at Uppsala University).