New Reports Reveal Insights Into Student Loan Borrowing, Repayment

Recently released data from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), examines federal student loan borrowers and their repayment progress.

A recently released report from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), presents data about federal student loan borrowers and their repayment progress. According to NCES researchers, among first-time postsecondary students who began at a public two-year institution in 2003, 48% borrowed to pay for their educational expenses, compared to 63% of all postsecondary students beginning the same year.

The report, Repayment of Student Loans as of 2015, looks at student loan borrowing and repayment among two cohorts of students from the national Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Studies (BPS): 1) students who began postsecondary education in 1995, and 2) students who began in 2003. The report examines several aspects of borrowing and repayment including:

·       Prevalence of federal borrowing;

·       Amount owed;

·       Repayment status;

·       Prevalence of default; and

·       Prevalence of loan payoff.

NCES researchers also look at borrowing and repayment according to several student characteristics, including income, dependency, institution type, degree attainment, and employment outcomes.

Notably, the report reveals difficulties that students experience in repaying loans and a problem of high default rates. In 2015, 38% of students from the 2003 cohort were either in loan deferment or default. Among the 2003 cohort, 27% experienced default at least once by 2015. Students with significantly higher rates of default include those from low-income families, those who started but did not complete their degree, and those who were unemployed six years after starting postsecondary education.

In addition to the report from NCES, higher education policy analysts from the Center for American Progress (CAP) analyzed the borrowing and repayment data by race and parental status. CAP analysts point to high rates of borrowing among African American students and high rates of default among African Americans and student-parents

According to the Department of Education, defaulting on federal student loans can have several negative consequences, including:

·       Loss of eligibility for federal student aid;

·       Damage to a students’ credit rating;

·       Garnished wages and withheld tax benefits; and

·       Legal action.

ACCT plans to conduct further analysis of the new data and policies to support students manage loan repayment. We will share our findings in future articles on ACCT Now.

The full report from NCES can be downloaded here.

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Allison Beer is senior policy analyst for the Association of Community College Trustees. She can be reached at

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