Student debt is not a new concern. But it is a complex story, the details of which vary greatly depending on the type of college a student attends, and the credential they earn. Using the last four quadrennial NPSAS surveys, our Student Debt Review report examines how different students, pursuing different credentials, experience debt differently. It shows gradual, across-the-board growth in student debts across different institutions and credentials between 2003-04 and 2007-08, and much faster increases in borrowing between 2007-08 and 2011-12. It also finds, in that time period, that the number of undergraduate students with debt increased from 1.6 million to 2.4 million, and that the typical bachelor’s degree completer with student debts now pays approximately $79 more every month in repayments. Finally, it shows especially rapid rises in student debt at private for-profit colleges: bachelor’s degree graduates at these institutions, for instance, now pay $95 more each month than their peers in 2003-04, and $153 more than students earning the same credential at public colleges.
The report is the first in a two-part series: New America will release a graduate debt study to accompany this undergraduate-focused report in the second quarter of 2014.