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Why Students With Smallest Debts Have The Larger Problem

Politicians who complain about college costs frequently cite two numbers: one trillion and seven million.

Student borrowers owe more than $1 trillion, and seven million borrowers are in default, according to the latest Department of Education data. It’s natural for people listening to the politicians to connect the two facts with a causal arrow: More debt leads to more default. But the reality is surprising: Borrowers who owe the most are least likely to default.

The reason for this strange pattern? The biggest borrowers tend to become the highest earners.