We continue our exploration into trends in the federal student loan debt included in the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard data. This blog post examines federal loan debt across various student characteristics, including gender, first-generation status, Pell status, and institutional specialty status. By way of review, the national average for four-year public universities in the College Scorecard data was $15,710 in the most recent cohort (AY2020), while the Texas average for public universities was $14,119. This places Texas 33rd out of the 50 states in the data.
In our previous blog post, we noticed that a relationship seemed to exist between median loan debt and the percentage of underrepresented minorities (URM) enrolled as undergraduates. However, that relationship was contingent upon the type of institution. Median student loan amount is lowest at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and highest at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). We will use these specialty categories as a framework for comparisons throughout the remainder of this blog post. Each of the visualizations below shows the weighted average of federal student loan debt across all four-year public universities in the College Scorecard dataset.
NOTE: Due to the volume of information in each visualization below, we recommend that you click the “Full Screen” button in the bottom-right corner to enhance viewing of the data.
To this point in our review of federal student loan debt from the College Scorecard data, one of the primary observations is that students who have been historically most at-risk are the ones who are incurring the highest student debt loads. This is true across a variety of characteristics, including gender, first-generation status, family income level, and race/ethnicity, especially at HBCUs. These trends will be important in upcoming blog posts, as we look beyond amounts borrowed to see how successfully borrowers are in repaying student loan debts over time.