Released today, the College Board’s yearly “Trends in College Pricing” and “Trends in Student Aid,” offer a comprehensive glimpse at the many facets of higher education funding, including student debt and financial aid. Also released today is The Institute for College Access and Success’ (TICAS) annual “Student Debt and the Class of 2013,” a report on cumulative student loan debt of recent graduates from four-year colleges.
Findings in Trends in Student Aid indicate the total amount students borrowed in federal and nonfederal education loans declined by 13 percent between 2010-11 and 2013-14. Borrowing per student (including non-completers) also declined by 9 percent over the most recent three years. By looking at the debt levels of only graduates, the TICAS report found borrowers owed an average of $28,400, which is up two percent from graduates in 2012. Since colleges are not required to report on debt levels for their graduates, data reported by TICAS is only a reflection of figures provided voluntarily.
Several years out of the recession, the new data released today by the College Board show higher education costs are returning to relative normalcy. In 2013-14, students and parents borrowed $106 billion dollars, down from $114.7 billion (in 2013 dollars) the year before and $122.1 billion (in 2013 dollars)—student debt’s peak—in 2010-11.
That decline, for all borrowers, includes a dip in institutional loans taken, according to data reported by NASFAA members for the College Board’s report. Institutional loans provided approximately $710 million in aid to students in 2013-14, institutions reported, down from $713 million the previous year.
According to the College Board, among graduate student borrowers, average federal student loan debt declined from $18,380 in 2012-13 (in 2013 dollars) to $17,560 in 2013-14.
Institutions, meanwhile, have kept up their commitment to financial aid. “In 2013-14, about 48% of the institutional grant aid at public four-year institutions and about 70% at private nonprofit institutions went to meet financial need,” Trends in Student Aid notes. TICAS went on to further identify which colleges were notable for having low debt levels for the Class of 2013, with slightly more than half being private not-for-profit.
Students got a boost from other grant funding sources as well, including the states. Overall grant aid per full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate increased 8 percent between 2010-11 and 2013-14, and accounted for 54 percent of undergraduates’ total financial aid according to the College Board. To further reduce the burden of student debt the TICAS report recommends Congress work to prevent state disinvestment, which it notes is still down by 25 percent from the recession.
While many of the Trends in Student Aid findings demonstrate a recovery from the recession, others point to work that still needs to be done. Only 14 percent of borrowers repaying their federal Direct student loans were enrolled in income-driven plans in the third quarter of 2013-2014, while another 9 percent were in default. TICAS also recommends the need to help keep loan payments manageable and suggestions income-driven repayment plans. NASFAA continues to advocate for universal income-based repayment to help struggling borrowers.
Publication Date: 11/13/2014