Why Student Loans are Different

Discussing New Focus Group Research

New America invites you to attend a panel discussion with leading experts about how student loans are or are not working for today's borrowers.

For millions of Americans, federal student loans are a crucial way to earn a degree and enter the middle class. But far too many loans also end up delinquent or in default, with disastrous consequences for borrowers.

Unfortunately, existing data leave significant gaps in our understanding of student loan struggles. To help fill this information void, New America conducted six focus groups across the country over the past year to hear from actual struggling borrowers about their interactions with student loans. The findings from this work can be found in a new report, Why Student Loans Are Different. While focus group research is never definitive, this work can guide future research and prompt policymakers to re-examine key assumptions about why borrowers do or do not repay their loans, how they think about debt, and whether certain federal student loan benefits are as effective as we would like them to be. 

Follow the conversation online using #differentdebt and following @NewAmericaEd


Beth Akers @BethAkersEd
Fellow, Brown Center on Education Policy, Brookings Institution

Kevin Fudge @asa_org
Manager, Government Relations and Community Affairs, American Student Assistance

Adela Soliz
Advanced Doctoral Student, Harvard Graduate School of Education


Jason Delisle @delislealleges
Director, Federal Education Budget Project, New America
Co-author, Why Student Loans are Different