Sunday, November 17

The Landscape of Student Loan Debt


By Robert Kelchen

The burden of student loan debt is getting a lot of attention among policymakers and in the general public. This is an issue that higher education leaders need to be aware of when talking with stakeholders. In this article I discuss the following items:

  • The state of student loan debt in the United States
  • Student loan repayment options and their implications for students and colleges
  • Key federal policy proposals on student loan debt and repayment

The state of student loan debt

In the last fifteen years, the amount of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. has more than tripled, going from $467 billion in 2005 (in inflation-adjusted dollars) to $1.47 trillion in 2019. Approximately 90% of this debt is from federal student loans, with the remainder coming from private or state loan programs.

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