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Student Loans Rising

An Overview of Causes, Consequences, and Policy Options

William G. Gale, Benjamin H. Harris, Bryant Renaud, Katherine Rodihan

Published: May 14, 2014
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Abstract

The share of households with student loans rose from 9 percent in 1989 to 19 percent by 2010, while inflation-adjusted median student debt rose by more than 50 percent. Rising debt burdens can affect numerous outcomes. For those in school, loans may affect completion rates, choice of major, and academic performance. After students graduate, debt can impact career choice and pursuit of a graduate education. Loan burdens can also affect decisions later in life, such as homeownership, marriage and saving. The costs of having higher student loan debt should be weighed against the well-documented economic returns to acquiring more education.

This research was funded by a generous grant from the Ford Foundation.