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Student Loan Defaults Hit a New Record In 2016

The number of defaulted federal student loans hit a new high in 2016: about 8 million borrowers have given up paying on more than $137 billion in education debts.

That means at least one out of every six people who have any federal student debt haven’t made a payment on their loans for at least nine months, says Jessica Thompson, research director for The Institute for College Access and Success.

In fact, 1.1 million student borrowers defaulted for the first time in 2016, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education on Friday.

Overall, the total amount of defaulted federal student debt grew by about 14% in 2016. The new record surprised and disappointed Thompson and other experts who had hoped improvements to the economy and to student loan payment options would have had a bigger impact.