Statistical Analysis Report:
Early Labor Force Experiences and Debt Burden
(NCES 97-286) Ordering information
This report uses data from the Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) and Beginning Postsecon-dary
Student (BPS) studies to examine the early labor force experiences of postsecondary educa-tion
participants who graduated or left without a degree or certificate; their borrowing for
postsecondary education; and, if they borrowed, their repayment status and the debt burden im-plied
by their income and repayment obligations. The B&B data, collected in 1994, are used to
examine the experiences of 199293 bachelors degree recipients approximately one year after
they graduated. The BPS data are used to track the experiences of another group of recent labor
market entrants: individuals who began their postsecondary education in 198990 and whose last
enrollment ended by December 1992. This group is referred to below as the noncompleters and
associates degree or certificate recipients or the nonbaccalaureate group.
- The vast majority (87 percent) of 199293 bachelors degree recipients were employed
in April 1994 (table 7). About three-quarters (76 percent) were working only, and 11
percent were combining work and further education. The rest were enrolled for further
education and not employed (7 percent) or neither working nor enrolled (6 percent).
- Eighty-one percent of the noncompleters and associates degree or certificate recipients
were employed in April 1994 (table 9). The rest were unemployed or out of the labor
- The average April 1994 annualized salary for the bachelors degree recipients was
$22,100 ($24,200 for those working full time); the average 1993 earnings for the non-baccalaureate
group were $16,600 (tables 13 and 14).
- Some experience with unemployment during the first year after graduation was not un-common
for bachelors degree recipients: 29 percent had been unemployed for at least
one month (table 15). Their April 1994 unemployment rate was 4.5 percent.
- Among the nonbaccalaureate group, about one-third had experienced some unemploy-ment,
but their unemployment was measured over a longer time period than the bache-lors
degree recipients (since 1989) (table 16). The unemployment rate for this group in
April 1994 was 4.7 percent.
Borrowing for Undergraduate Education
- About one-half (49 percent) of the 199293 bachelors degree recipients borrowed
from some source (including family or friends as well as through student loan pro-grams)
to finance their undergraduate education (table 18). Among those who bor-rowed,
the average amount was $10,200. Graduates of private, not-for-profit
institutions borrowed more, on average, than graduates of public institutions ($12,800
- Overall, 43 percent of the noncompleters and associates degree or certificate recipients
borrowed from some source for their postsecondary education, and 25 percent bor-rowed
through student loan programs (table 19). The average amount borrowed
through student loan programs was $4,200. For students who last attended a public 2-
year institution, the borrowing rate through student loan programs was 10 percent and
the average amount borrowed was $2,700.
- Bachelors degree recipients immediate career plans appear unrelated to borrowing,
but borrowing may be an obstacle to immediate enrollment in graduate school (tables
Loan Repayment and Debt Burden
- About one year after graduating, 63 percent of bachelors degree recipients had no un-dergraduate
debt, either because they had never borrowed or because they had repaid
their loans; 29 percent were required to make loan payments; and the remaining 8 per-cent
still owed money but were not required to make payments in 1994 (table 29).
- Among the noncompleters and associates degree or certificate recipients, 16 percent
were making payments (table 30).
- For 199293 bachelors degree recipients who were repaying their loans in 1994, the
average monthly payment was $136, which averaged 9 percent of their April 1994 sal-ary
(tables 31 and 33). Thirty-one percent of those in repayment were paying less than
5 percent of their monthly income; 38 percent were paying 5 to 9 percent; 15 percent
were paying 10 to 14 percent; and 16 percent were paying 15 percent or more (table
33). Those with the lowest salaries (less than $15,000) had the greatest average debt
burden (15 percent).
- Bachelors degree recipients whose debt burden exceeded 15 percent were more likely
than those with debt burdens of under 5 percent to be living with parents or relatives
- The nonbaccalaureate group were less burdened with debt. Their monthly payments av-eraged
$76, and three-quarters had monthly payments amounting to less than 10 per-cent
of their monthly income (tables 32 and 34). The average was 8 percent.
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For more information about the content of this report, contact Dennis Carroll at Dennis.Carroll@ed.gov.