The report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, released today, examines patterns of student loan repayment for two separate groups of borrowers — those who started college in the 1995-96 academic year and those who started eight years later, in 2003-04. Twelve years after beginning their postsecondary educations, the second group had paid off a smaller proportion of their student loans and had defaulted at a higher rate on at least one loan.
In addition to the rising price of college, multiple factors may have contributed to changing profile of student loan repayment. Students who entered college in 2003 would have graduated or left college around the time the U.S. entered the Great Recession. Changes in federal policy also have made options like income-driven repayment more popular. And experts say the composition of student loan borrowers has changed, too, as enrollment at community colleges and for-profit institutions spiked in the recession’s wake.