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.
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).
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.
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:
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.