The “Good News” on Student Debt Is Not Really All That Good

Writing for the Huffington Post, Shahien Nasiripour reports that “Borrowing for College Is Set to Hit a Five Year Low.” More specifically, for the first time since the 2009-2010 academic year, student loans are likely to total less than $100 million.

That sounds like good news. But it actually reflects very little change. In fact, the best that can be said is that the numbers do not appear to be getting dramatically worse.

First, the student loan total had edged over $100 million in the last two years. So even though the figure sounds like a major benchmark, a decline just slightly below that benchmark represents only a  slight decline in borrowing.

Second, much of the decline is due to a slight decline in the total enrollment for the coming academic year. This decline will continue the trend of the last five years, during which total enrollment has declined by about three-quarters of a million students.

Third, there has been a significant decline in the total enrollments and therefore in the number of student loans being awarded to students attending for-profit colleges and universities. In 2012, those institutions accounted for less than 10% of total enrollment but over 30% of total borrowing. So the slight decline in total borrowing means that the borrowing among students attending public and non-profit private institutions is almost certainly continuing to increase.

Lastly, it must be noted that these figures include only loans secured through the federal government and not loans secured through private sources. So the total student debt is, like actual unemployment figures, considerably higher than what the federal government is reporting.

Shahien Nasiripour’s complete article is available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/student-loans-5-year-low_55d48233e4b07addcb44b8f0?kvcommref=mostpopular

 

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