Posted by: Gregory Linton | 10/23/2019

The Institute for College Access & Success has released “Student Debt and the Class of 2018”

“Student Debt and the Class of 2018” is the 14th annual report by The Institute for College Access & Success, which advocates for student-centered public policies that promote affordability, accountability, and equity in higher education. The study relies on data provided to Peterson’s voluntarily by about half of all public and nonprofit bachelor’s degree-granting four-year colleges and universities, representing over 70 percent of graduates. The data include only student loans and do not include federal Parent PLUS loans. Here are some of the key findings:

  • 65% of college seniors who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2018 had student loan debt, which is the same share as the Class of 2017.
  • Borrowers from the Class of 2018 owed an average of $29,200, a 2 percent increase from the Class of 2017.
  • States with the highest average student debt are concentrated in the Northeast, and states with low debt are located mainly in the West.
  • Tennessee ranks 34th in average debt of graduates ($26,838) and 31st in percent of graduates with debt (55%).
  • About 17 percent of the Class of 2018’s debt was comprised of nonfederal loans, which are typically more costly than federal loans and provide fewer consumer protections.
  • More than half of undergraduates who take out private loans have not used the maximum available in federal student loans, which suggests the need for better financial aid education.
  • Graduates more likely to default on their loans include Black (21%), low-income (11%), for-profit (30%), and first-generation (10%) graduates.

The report offers the following seven policy ideas for institutions to reduce student debt burdens:

  • Look at borrowing trends across types of students and types of debt.
  • Set some financial aid resources aside to help students with emergencies.
  • Set clear, reasonable student budgets.
  • Protect access to federal student loans.
  • Develop and provide supplemental counseling and information.
  • Provide counseling for students seeking private loans.
  • Ensure that net price calculators are easy to find, use, and compare.

TICAS also provides information on more than 12,000 U.S. colleges as well as detailed, research-level higher education data at College-Insight.org.


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