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Student Loan Debt Statistics

Delving into Student Debt Statistics

  • Total student loan debt reached $1.77 trillion as of Q2 2023, rising over 1.25% from Q2 2022.
  • In the 2021-22 academic year, undergraduates borrowed $94.7 billion in new federal and private loans.

Loan Types and Percentage Breakdown

  • 46% of this new borrowing came through unsubsidized Stafford loans. Graduate PLUS loans accounted for another 13%.
  • 54% of 2021 bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with student debt, averaging $29,100 per borrower.
  • The federal loan portfolio included $1.45 trillion in Direct Loans and $195 billion in FFEL loans in Q2 2023.

Repayment and Delinquencies

  • Over 35 different federal loan repayment plans now exist, illustrating program complexity.
  • The number of borrowers in income-driven plans has ballooned from 1.1 million in 2013 to 9.8 million by late 2022.
  • Student loan delinquencies remain elevated despite repayment pauses. 5% of federal borrowers were 90+ days delinquent in Q2 2023.

Debt Demographics

  • Women hold nearly two-thirds of all student debt, averaging balances $1,800 higher than men.
  • Average debt at graduation ranges from $18,350 at public colleges to $32,500 at private non-profit colleges.
  • Over 60% of student debt is held by borrowers under 40. But balances are growing fast for those over 60.

Key Takeaways

  • Federal student loans account for 92% of the total $1.77 trillion debt crisis.
  • Loan dependence begins early, with over half of graduates taking debt.
  • Debt burdens fall heaviest on women and borrowers of color.
  • Approval rates remain low, averaging just 21.61% across all applicants in 2020.
  • Average funded loan amounts edged up to $11,729 in 2020.

Federal Response and Initiatives

  • The CARES Act provided relief by suspending loan payments and interest from March 2020 through December 2022.
  • The Biden administration sought to cancel up to $20,000 in federal loans per borrower.
  • Biden recently extended the payment pause through 2023 and proposed a new income-driven “SAVE” repayment plan.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

  • Only 2.5% of PSLF applications have been approved since inception.
  • Just over $10 billion in loan balances have been forgiven under PSLF through March 2023.

The Root Causes

  • College tuition and fees have dramatically outpaced inflation over the past 30 years.
  • For example, average annual tuition at public 4-year colleges rose from $4,160 in 1989 to $10,740 in 2019 (in 2019 dollars).

State Funding and Family Income

  • Per-student state spending on public higher education declined by about 20% per full-time student from 1987 to 2017.
  • Median household income has barely budged since the late 1980s after adjusting for inflation.

For-Profit Colleges and Funding Limits

  • Enrollments boomed at for-profit colleges in the 1990s and 2000s.
  • Federal Pell grants now cover only about 28% of the average costs at 4-year public colleges.