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Percentage of Borrowers Owing $20,000 or More Doubled Since 2002

August 17, 2017
 
 

The percentage of student loan borrowers leaving college owing $20,000 or more doubled over about a decade, according to a report released Wednesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Over 40 percent of student loan borrowers owe $20,000 or more when they leave college. That’s up from 20 percent in 2002.

More borrowers owe higher amounts as well. The portion of borrowers owing $50,000 or more spiked from 5 percent to 16 percent during the same period.

The statistics represent additional data points in the ongoing discussion about growth in student loans and how much debt is too much debt. About 44 million Americans owe a collective $1.4 trillion in federal and private student loan debt.

For Wednesday’s report, the CFPB analyzed anonymized credit reports for groups of borrowers who started repaying loans from 2002 to 2014, examining their repayments through 2016. It also found the following:

  • The percentage of borrowers beginning repayment after age 34 roughly doubled since 2003, from 25 percent to almost 50 percent.
  • The portion of borrowers starting repayment when they were younger than 25 years old dropped from 30 percent to 15 percent.
  • The percentage of borrowers not paying down loan balances almost doubled between 2008 and 2016, from 16 percent to 30 percent.
  • The percentage of borrowers who saw their debt grow while they were in repayment increased between 2008 and 2016, from 8 percent to 12 percent.
  • Borrowers who fully repaid their loans five years into repayment declined over the last 10 years, from 50 percent to 41 percent.
  • Of those borrowers not paying down their balances five years into repayment, 60 percent are delinquent on their loans.
  • Among borrowers not paying down their balances after five years, 75 percent of those with balances of less than $20,000 are delinquent on at least one of their loans.

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