Loan Repayment Status by Institutional Type

This blog post represents the eighth and final contribution in our series on student loan debt. All previous blog posts can be found on our primary website. The previous blog post explored the relationship between loan repayment rate and the percentage of students from underserved/underrepresented student populations. The data showed that students from HBCUs tend to carry higher average balances over time, while also having more difficulty repaying beginning balances. In this post, we will review borrowers’ loan repayment status after two years since leaving campus.

Relationship between Loan Repayment Rate and Percentage of Underserved Students

In most instances, federal student loans include a six-month grace period after a student graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time enrollment before borrowers have to start repayment. At this point, repayment begins and borrowers can be tracked in one of eight categories of repayment: Paid in Full, Making Progress, Forbearance, Deferment, Not Making Progress, Delinquency, Default, and Discharged. Forbearance allows borrowers to suspend payments and interest accrual while re-enrolled more than half-time in college, while Deferment pushes pause on payments for a variety of non-enrollment reasons, but interest continues to accrue. The stacked bar chart below shows the percentage of students in each of these eight categories broken out by institutional type: HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institutions), and Not HBCU/HSI. Adding the percentages across each group should equal 100% (with rounding error).

  • Almost 12% of students who leave Not HBCU/HSI institutions have paid their federal loan balances in full within 2 years of leaving their university, while 10% of students at HSIs and 1% of students at HBCUs have paid balances in full within 2 years.
  • More than one-quarter of students at HSIs (27%) and Not HBCU/HSIs (28%) are making progress through on-time loan payments. Just over 6% of students from HBCUs are making progress after 2 years.
  • The percentage of students who have paused payments (Forbearance or Deferment) range from 47% at HBCUs to 31% at HSIs to 27% at Not HBCU/HSIs.
  • Adding the first four categories together provides the percentage of students who would be considered “in good standing” on their loan repayment: 68% at HSIs, 67% at Not HBCU/HSIs, and 54% at HBCUs.
  • Just over 45% students from HBCUs, 32% from Not HBCU/HSIs, and 31% from HSIs are “not in good standing” (Not Making Progress, are in Deliquency, or have Defaulted) on their federal student loans after 2 years.

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. Also, the data in this chart were collected prior to the federal government’s automatic forbearance for federal student loans during the Covid-19 pandemic.

So What?

Over the past few months, we have looked at new data in the student loan debt conversation published by the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard. Across the blog posts, we have seen a number of trends: 

  • Since 2003, federal student loan debt has increased 532% across the United States
  • In general, students from HSI institutions tend to borrow less in federal student loans than students from other types of institutions.
  • Across all institution types, Pell grant recipients ($15,635) borrow an average of almost $2,800 more in federal student loans than their Not Pell grant recipient counterparts ($12,915).
  • Federal loan borrowers from institutions that serve higher percentages of students from underrepresented minority (URM) populations tend to struggle to repay beginning balances over time.
  • A higher percentage of students from HBCUs are not making progress in repaying student loans.

The broadest takeaway from the College Scorecard student loan data is that students who are from traditionally underserved student populations, especially at HBCUs, tend to borrow more federal loan dollars, fail to make progress early in the repayment cycle, and often carry their beginning balances for a longer period of time. These outcomes speak to growing concerns related to equity in higher education, and how policymakers, boards, and higher education institutions can collectively work to improve outcomes for all students.

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