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Student Loans and Debt

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Student Loans and Debt

  • Federal student loans are an essential tool in helping students pay for their college educations. The federal government began originating all student loans through its Direct Lending Program in 2010, when a provision to eliminate the bank-based Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program was included in the Obama administration’s health care overhaul. Prior to 2010, a significant portion of loans were made under the FFEL, which was funded through a public/private partnership administered at the state and local level.

    Extreme student loan debt—while still relatively rare—has become an increasingly prominent issue in recent years, and policy makers seem to be listening. There are bills currently pending in Congress to allow student loan debt to be discharged in bankruptcy. In 2011, the Obama administration released a plan to allow millions of additional borrowers to consolidate their federal student loans and to expand income-based repayment for current students. 

Previous Content

  • February 7, 2013

    CBO Report: Pell Grants on Solid Footing

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) yesterday released detailed estimates on funding for the federal Pell Grant and student loan programs. The estimates represented very good news about the overall health of Pell Grant funding and showed some positive trends in student borrowing.

  • Content Item

    October 24, 2012

    Statement of ACE President Molly Corbett Broad on College Board Trend Reports

    The good news is that tuition increases have moderated at both public and private colleges and universities, but the bad news is that tuition continues to outpace inflation and growth in family income.

  • July 20, 2012

    FRIDAY BUZZ: Government Report Details Private Student Loan Debt Risk

    The Education Department and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report finding that private student loans, which make up $150 billion of the more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, are much riskier than federal student loans for both the student and the co-signer. The report, mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, gives an overview of the private student loan market and makes recommendations for reform.

  • Document

    January 17, 2008

    Facts About College Access and Affordability

    Talking points in response to a Government Accountability Office report on college affordability that refuted common misperceptions about college costs.

  • Document

    August 1, 2007

    Who Borrows Private Loans?

    This issue brief answers questions about private student loan borrowers.

  • Document

    July 14, 2006

    Credit Card Ownership and Behavior Among Traditional-Age Undergraduates, 2003-04

    This issue brief discusses the prevalence and use of credit cards by undergraduate students enrolled in postsecondary education in 2003-04.

  • Document

    May 5, 2006

    Working Their Way Through College: Student Impact and Its Impact on the College Experience

    This issue brief addresses key questions about undergraduates who work, using data from the 2003–04 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. Understanding who works, why, and the effects that work has on academic success and college financing may help institution leaders and policy makers craft policies to help students balance their need and desire to work with their academic priorities.

  • Document

    June 22, 2005

    Federal Student Loan Debt: 1993 to 2004

    This issue brief looks at the growth of federal student loan between 1993 and 2004 utilizing National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey. Results show the extent to which student loan volume has changed by various degree levels.

  • Document

    November 10, 2004

    An Overview of Higher Education in the United States: Diversity, Access, and the Role of the Marketplace

    This publication describes the major characteristics of American higher education and important issues that challenge it, linking back as appropriate to essential philosophical underpinnings of American higher education history.

  • Document

    September 23, 2004

    Debt Burden: Repaying Student Debt

    This analysis describes the borrowing and repayment experiences of 1992–93 and 1999–2000 bachelor’s degree recipients one year after graduation.


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