NAICU Washington Update

Expert Tackles Myths and Realities of Student Debt

February 27, 2020

During a recent NAICU webinar on student debt, titled “Myths and Realities of Student Debt: Breaking through the Clutter,” Sandy Baum, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute, discussed the facts and misperceptions about student debt.  The presentation provided an array of data to help higher education leaders discuss the topic with students, parents, policy makers, and the media.
Among the topics that were covered were:
  • Average federal loans per undergraduate student are declining and the total annual borrowing has declined for eight consecutive years.
  • The proportion of debt made up by graduate and professional students is growing – now 42 percent of total annual federal loan borrowing, up from 31 percent in 1995-96.
  • The average debt for bachelor’s degree recipients at independent colleges and universities who borrowed was $33,500 in 2018.
  • Only seven percent of borrowers owe more than $100,000, but they account for one-third of outstanding debt.
  • Twenty-eight percent of bachelor’s degree recipients at independent colleges and universities graduated with no debt.
  • Those who borrow, but fail to complete their degree, have the most difficult time in repayment.

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