Student Debt

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CIS Screenshot The New York Times profiled our new report Student Debt and the Class of 2008 on their education blog The Choice. Our latest analysis of student debt by state found college seniors who graduated in 2008 carried an average of $23,200 in student loan debt. Meanwhile, unemployment climbed from an already challenging 7.6 percent in the third quarter of 2008 to 10.6 percent in 2009 – the highest third-quarter rate for college graduates aged 20 to 24 this decade. Debt levels vary widely by state, with some Midwestern and New England states facing the highest debts.

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Click here to read the report

Other outlets that have covered our report include:

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Top 10 List
We’ve updated our Top 10 List of student loan tips for students preparing to graduate and enter “the real world.” Many students are looking at their student loans more closely now than they ever have before, and wondering how they will handle the burden. Our tips can help young people keep payments affordable, avoid fees and extra interest costs, and protect their credit rating. Click here to read the Top 10 List

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The Project on Student Debt has created a Facebook group, which we're using to promote the Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. Income-Based Repayment becomes available on July 1, so we’re spreading the word about this new federal program and IBRinfo in every way we can. The Project's Facebook group is not only a way to raise awareness about our work, but a forum for borrowers to ask questions about their student loan debt or share their stories. Join us on Facebook Visit IBRinfo.org and tell your friends

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The Institute for College Access & Success' acting president Lauren Asher appears on CNN's American Morning.

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It's a new year with a new administration in Washington, and the dire economic situation has made college affordability a top concern for policymakers and consumers alike. Our new policy agenda for 2009 aims to limit the growth and risks of student debt by increasing grant aid, strengthening consumer protections, and ensuring easy access to new affordable repayment options.

The Project on Student Debt's current priorities include:

  • Increase access to need-based grant aid
  • Strengthen consumer protections for private student loan borrowers
  • Ensure easy access to Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Read the policy agenda in its entirety here

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By Lauren Asher, Vice President

In Monday's New York Times article about a new state student loan program for New York, a spokesperson for Governor Paterson's budget office said, "One of the big problems in the student loan program is that it is drying up. People who were able to get loans last year can’t get them this year." This kind of misleading statement encourages students and parents – already rattled about how to pay for college – to believe they’ll have trouble getting the most common and affordable type of student loan: a federal loan. In fact, federal student loans remain fully available to all eligible students and parents.

The New York program will encourage undergraduates to borrow up to a stunning $50,000 in state loans, even though dependent undergraduates can already borrow up to a total $31,000 in federal Stafford loans. These federal loans have lower interest rates than the New York loans and come with significant borrower protections and guaranteed access to affordable repayment options.

While it is true that the availability of private student loans has declined due to changes in the broader financial markets, only 8% of the undergraduate class of 2007 used private loans, and an estimated 40% of them had not maximized their federal borrowing options first.

If the goal of the new loan program is to make college more affordable, it misses the mark. Nationally, more than two-thirds of students who graduate from four-year colleges already carry an average of about $22,000 in student loan debt – with similar numbers for New York state. Struggling students should not be burdened with more debt, which will leave them even less able to buy a home, support a family, or save for retirement when the economy picks up again. Instead, tough economic times require states and the federal government to invest in higher education in ways that reduce the need to borrow.

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