In our previous blog posts, we reviewed a number of trends in the federal student loan debt data that are included in the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard data. The College Scorecard student loan debt data are different from other sources, as the cohorts included in the data are comprised of all undergraduates who disassociate from an institution during a given academic year. Whether they leave via graduating with a bachelor’s degree or stopping-out, these students’ debt levels are considered in the median debt calculations. Previously, we found that the median student loan amount is lowest at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and highest at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This blog post is the first of several that move beyond federal student loan amounts to explore how effective students in the College Scorecard cohorts are in repaying their student loans over time.
One of the data points included in the College Scorecard data that add value to our knowledge about student loan debt is related to students’ repayment of federal loans over time. These data report the overall average balance owed rate for each institution in the Scorecard data. The College Scorecard data shows balance owed rates that are calculated by aggregating all of the balances owed by members of the student cohort at each timepoint, and dividing that aggregation by the full amount of beginning balances borrowed at the time the students left the university.
The visualization below shows all of the institutions’ average percentage of beginning balance owed at each checkpoint. Texas public four-year universities are highlighted with their name abbreviation and color associated with university system membership. The horizontal line at 100% represents the point at which the average existing loan balance is equal to the original beginning balance owed. The trendline sloping from left-to-right shows the relationship between balance owed and time.
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.
This initial view of percentage of original balances owed highlights some of the concerns that were seen in average federal student loan debt data, as repayment of student loans may differ based on institutional type and demographic characteristics. The next few blog posts will explore the relationship between repayment of student loans and other characteristics to see what patterns are revealed in this rich set of data.