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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Student Debt

I posted a snarky comment on a blog I read  about levels of student debt in the 1970s and decided to take a look at actual data, which are here:

Inflation-adjusted (2012 prices) debt per enrolled student (in 4-year colleges and universities):

Year......Average Debt
1976........$   883

This is the average level of student debt, across all students, and includes students with no debt. The increase is extraordinary--averaged across all students, (inflation-adjusted) debt was about 7 times as high in 2013 as in 1971. The same report from which I extracted the above data also reports:
"Most discussions of average debt levels focus on debt per borrower, setting aside the significant number of college students who do not borrow at all, or at least do not rely on education loans. In 2007-08, 34% of bachelor’s degree recipients, 52% of associate degree recipients, and 37% of those who earned postsecondary certificates did not have education debt. Including these students may obscure some of the potential problems facing borrowers, but it paints a clearer picture of how students finance their education. For example, in 2007-08,median debt for bachelor’s degree recipients who borrowed was $20,000 and 10% borrowed more than $44,500. The median for all bachelor’s degree recipients was $11,000 and the 90th percentile was $39,300."

So in 2007-2008, 2/3 of all bachelor's degree recipients had some student debt. I can find no data for the early 1970s, but my own experience suggests that less than 1/3 of degree recipients in the early 1970s had student loans. So the median in 1971 was probably zero, whereas the median in 2007-08 was, according to t his report, $11,000 (looking only with students with some debt, the median was $20,000).


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