Who borrows most for college? New report

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The Washington Post
By: Valerie Strauss
May 4, 2010

Two-thirds of students who graduate from college with bachelor's degrees leave with some student loan debt, according to a new analysis.
The report, written by the College Board, also found that among 2007-08 bachelor's degree recipients--the latest year for which data is available--17 percent had borrowed $30,500, and that high debt is more common among black bachelor's degree recipients than among those from other racial groups.

"There is an urgent need for strengthening postsecondary financing policies and for better guidance and improved financial literacy for students before they borrow to finance their postsecondary education," the study said.

Using data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, it also said:

  • Debt is higher among independent students than among those still dependent on their families. Among dependent students, high debt levels are not correlated with family income, but middle-income students from each sector are somewhat more likely than either lower- or higher-income students to have accumulated as much as $30,500 in debt.

  • Non-federal borrowing is riskier than borrowing from the federal government because it does not come with the same repayment protections and because non-federal loans generally carry higher interest rates.

  • Asian students are more likely than others to rely on non-federal borrowing.

  • Private loans are most prevalent among students from families with incomes of $100,000 or higher, and lower private loan amounts are associated with lower family incomes.

The report concludes that families need access to better information about college financing.

"They need this information before they incur amounts of debt that put them at great risk of future financial insecurity," it said.

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