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PEDAR: Executive Summary Debt Burden Four Years Later
Borrowing for Education
Debt Status in 1997
Debt Burden
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)

About one-half of all 1992–93 bachelor’s degree recipients borrowed to help pay for their undergraduate education, and about one-half of the 29 percent who went on to graduate school borrowed, either as new or continuing borrowers. By 1997, approximately four years after they graduated, 62 percent of the 1992–93 bachelor’s degree recipients were debt free (46 percent had never borrowed at either level and 16 percent had borrowed but no longer owed).

Among those with no further enrollment after their bachelor’s degree, those who still had debt in 1997 (33 percent) owed an average of $7,100, and were making education loan payments averaging $151 per month (see summary figure). Most were well positioned financially to make these payments: 88 percent were employed full time in April 1997 and if employed full time were earning an average of $35,300. The median debt burden (monthly payments as a percentage of monthly income) was 5 percent. Being married tended to reduce debt burden. Overall, borrowing does not appear to affect major lifestyle choices or purchases or the propensity to save.

For 1992–93 bachelor’s degree recipients, undergraduate borrowing did appear to have a slight negative effect on graduate enrollment by 1994. However, the effect had disappeared by 1997.