EPI's weekly illustration of education data trends — July 26, 2018

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Outstanding Debt Four Years After BA Graduation (2008-2012)

 

Students who earned a bachelor's degree and were employed owed an average of $23,200 four years after graduation, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. This group includes only students who graduated and did not enroll in any further graduate or related work after 2008. The blue bars on the right are graduates who are currently employed, while the red bar on the left are those who receive no salary.

Of primary interest is that graduates who either received no salary or who were in the lowest quartiles of salary earnings owed at least as much or more than the highest quartile of employed earners. In fact, those with no salary had $28,900 of outstanding debt compared with only $20,400 for the highest earners. Even the lowest earners of employed graduates had debt equal to $24,500, or 20 percent more than the highest earners. It is possible that the lowest earners and those with no salary had debt services and compounding interest that may have increased their total accumulated debt. As well, those who are in the highest earning quartile were more likely to be from affluent families, thus their need to borrow more could have been lower than others, plus their ability to repay was greater.

At the end of the day, not all is equitable if low-earning and unemployed persons have higher debt loads than other graduates.

SOURCE: Cataldi, E.F., Staklis, S., and Woo, J. (2018). Four Years Later: 2007-08 College Graduates' Employment, Debt, and Enrollment in 2012. Stats in Brief. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES 2018-435). Data from Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/12).

NOTE: Those who earned $1–$31,199 were the 25 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients with the lowest annualized salary; those who earned $31,200–$42,999 were the 25 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients with lower middle annualized salary; those who earned $43,000–$59,999 were the 25 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients with higher middle annualized salary; and those who earned $60,000 or more were the 25 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients with the highest annualized salary.