Student Loans

Overview

Student Loans

About 44 million people in the U.S. owe on student loans. At more than $1.5 trillion, education debt now exceeds our credit card balances and auto loans.

About 44 million people in the U.S. owe on student loans. At more than $1.5 trillion, education debt now exceeds our credit card balances and auto loans.

Student loans have become so ingrained in our culture that they’ve appeared everywhere from workplace benefits packages to game show awards. And as tuition continues to rise – it has more than tripled since the 1970s - student debt headlines are  likely to continue to drive traffic for local papersmagazines and national TV broadcasts.

While most Americans say student loans are worth the cost in the long run, nearly nine in 10 also believe that too many borrowers have a hard time paying back their debt. Arguments over the best way to address the country’s collective burden have grown into a divisive political topic.

Because student debt is such a hot topic, it’s also easy for time-pressed journalists to fall into common reporting traps, such as highlighting misleading statistics or publicizing extreme cases of borrowing as if they were typical.

The following information will help journalists find reliable data, cut through misleading statistics and understand the nuances of the federal loan system, including who is borrowing and how well they are repaying.

Updated September 2020

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What to Know About Debt Forgiveness

In the years since then presidential candidate Bernie Sanders introduced the idea of widespread debt forgiveness into the mainstream, it’s become a common rallying cry among younger, progressive voters. Here’s a breakdown of the existing options and new proposals.

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Student Debt and Race

A college degree is widely considered one of the most reliable paths toward upward economic mobiilty. But for minority students, that promise often falls short. That’s in part because student debt exacerbates existing racial wealth gaps.

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Long-Term Economic Effects of Student Debt

Countless surveys and news stories have documented the burden student loans place on young adults’ decisions to do everything from start a business to have a baby. Yet it’s difficult for researchers to measure whether student debt actually causes adverse financial effects for individuals. For one, there’s a limited time period of data, because today’s level of borrowing is unprecedented. But it’s also a challenging research topic.

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Glossary

Consolidation

Consolidation combines multiple federal loans into a single, new loan. It does not reduce the amount of interest a borrower pays — the new loan will carry a weighted average interest rate of the existing loans — but consolidation can be useful to access certain repayment plans. If a borrower has loans from before 2011 or a Perkins loan, consolidation is necessary to access income-driven repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Education Surges to Top Tier of Presidential Race Amid Pandemic
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Surges to Top Tier of Presidential Race Amid Pandemic
Journalists offer insights, story ideas on covering the schools angle

Education is not typically an issue that comes to the forefront in presidential races.

But months of an ongoing coronavirus pandemic have elevated conversations about how schools and elected officials are tackling the issue. In fact, education took a front seat in high-stakes negotiations this summer over a federal stimulus bill that has stalled.