EPI's weekly illustration of education data trends — May 3, 2017

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How Much Did College Students Borrow and Owe?


Students who receive an Associates or Bachelor's degree hold approximately $40,200 in student loan debt four years after graduation. Comparatively, Master's graduates owe $52,300, academic doctorates $75,200, and professional doctorates $134,100.

Findings from the new publication by Jennie Woo and Erin Dunlop Venez at RTI (for NCES) also show that borrowers with an earned doctorate see their student debt increasing four years after graduation, while the others are able to pay theirs down slightly. What does it mean? Academic and professional doctorates are unable to pay down their loans due to the size of the loan and likely their ratio of loan debt to earnings. Certainly this is a problem area for these high-end borrowers.

On the lower end, even students who earn a certificate are borrowing $40,000 to go to school and still owe $36,000 four years after graduation.

SOURCE: Venez, Erin Dunlop, and Woo, Jennie H. (April, 2017). The Debt Burden of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients. Stats in Brief. Washington, DC: US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2008/12 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, B&B:08/12).