Monday, November 15, 2021

More Transparency About the Student Debt Portfolio Is Needed: Student Debt By Institution

It's commonly known that US student loan debt is now about $1.7 trillion and that more than 44 million Americans are laden with this debt.  It's also known that student debt is not a problem for everyone who goes to college or everyone who takes out loans.  

Student loan debt is not equally distributed: while the children of elites can go to school without incurring debt and find meaningful work after graduation, working families are burdened because so many cannot find decent, gainful employment after dropping out or even after graduating from college--work that would enable them to repay their loans.

Student loan debt is also not distributed equally among the schools that generate the debt.  Working class people who have the opportunity to get to elite schools may incur less debt there than by attending state universities--but others who attend these elite schools, especially online at the graduate level, may not be so lucky.  

Those who attend subprime colleges, and who take the wrong majors, may incur debt they can never repay.  

And the multitude of debtors in between, the many millions going to less than elite schools, are having to restrict their dreams as they pay back their loans.  

The US Department of Education and other organizations publish important information on student loan debt.  The College Scorecard, for example, gives consumers information on the debt they can expect, gainful employment after attending, and the numbers on student loan repayment.   The Washington Monthly also ranks colleges, and important numbers, like social mobility rankings and amount of principal paid are in the rankings. The Century Foundation and The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) also contribute to our knowledge. 

But there are glaring gaps in our current knowledge about student loan debt, knowledge necessary for establishing greater transparency and accountability.  

One of the most important knowledge gaps is in learning about student debt by institution.  In 2016, Adam Looney and Constantine Yannelis presented a conference paper on student loan debt that listed student loan debt by institution.  

Table 5 in this report showed an important aspect of the debt, of accumulated debt, the percent of principal still owed on debt, and the 5-year student loan default rate.  University of Phoenix attendees had an estimated $35 billion in accumulated debt, outpacing Walden University.  And Argosy, Strayer, Capella, DeVry, American Intercontinental, and Nova Southeastern attendees owed more money than the principal of their loans, 5 years after the loans were taken out.  Kaplan University (know known as Purdue University Global) had a 5-year student loan default rate of 53 percent, and Ashford University (know known as University of Arizona, Global Campus) and Colorado Technical Institute had 5-year student loan default rates of 47 percent.  These subprime colleges, in effect, were draining the student loan portfolio while providing a service that hurt many of their customers.  

Even some big brand name schools like NYU, University of Southern California, Penn State, Arizona State University, Ohio State, University of Minnesota, Michigan State, Rutgers, Temple, UCLA, and Indiana University had students with enormous amounts of debt that they were having to pay off.  

The data in this study were from 2009 and 2014.  What has happened since then at the institutional level?  What schools today are draining the student loan portfolio and financially crippling those who have attended?  Consumers and tax payers should be allowed to know.  

Related link: The College Dream is Over (Gary Roth)

Related Link: USC Pushed a $115,000 Online Degree. Graduates Got Low Salaries, Huge Debt (Wall Street Journal-Lisa Bannon and Andrea Fuller) 

Related link: A crisis in student loans? How changes in the characteristics of borrowers and in the institutions they attended contributed to rising loan default ( Looney and Yannelis, 2016)

Related link: College Meltdown Expands to Elite Universities

Related link: What happens when Big 10 grads think "college is bullsh*t"?