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Indicators

Loans for Undergraduate Students
(Last Updated: May 2019)

In 2016–17, some 46 percent of first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students were awarded loan aid, a 4 percentage point decrease from 2010–11 (50 percent). Between 2010–11 and 2016–17, the average annual undergraduate student loan amount decreased 3 percent, from $7,400 to $7,200 (in constant 2017–18 dollars).

To help offset the cost of attending a postsecondary institution, Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 authorized several student financial assistance programs—namely, federal grants, loans, and Work-Study. The largest federal loan program is the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, established in 2010, for which the federal government is the lender. Interest on the loans provided under the Direct Loan Program may be subsidized, based on need, while the recipient is in school. Other types of student loans include institutional loans and private loans. Most loans are payable over 10 years, beginning 6 months after the student does one of the following: graduates, drops below half-time enrollment, or withdraws from the academic program.


Figure 1. Average undergraduate tuition and fees for full-time students at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level and control of institution: Academic years 2010–11 through 2017–18

Figure 1. Average undergraduate tuition and fees for full-time students at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level and control of institution: Academic years 2010–11 through 2017–18


NOTE: Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. For public institutions, in-state tuition and required fees are used. Tuition and fees are weighted by the number of full-time-equivalent undergraduates. Constant dollars are based on the Consumer Price Index, prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to an academic-year basis.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2011 through Spring 2018, Fall Enrollment component, and Fall 2010 through Fall 2017, Institutional Characteristics component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 330.10.


Between academic years 2010–11 and 2017–18, average undergraduate tuition and fees for full-time students across all degree-granting postsecondary institutions increased by 17 percent, from $10,700 to $12,600.1 Among 4-year institutions, tuition and fees increased by 13 percent between 2010–11 and 2017–18 at both public institutions (from $8,000 to $9,000) and private nonprofit institutions (from $29,800 to $33,800). In contrast, tuition and fees at private for-profit 4-year institutions were 5 percent lower in 2017–18 ($14,700) than in 2010–11 ($15,400).

At 2-year institutions, the largest percentage increase in tuition and fees from 2010–11 to 2017–18 was at public institutions (18 percent, from $2,700 to $3,200). Tuition and fees at private nonprofit 2-year institutions increased by 11 percent, from $14,200 in 2010–11 to $15,800 in 2017–18. In contrast, tuition and fees at private for-profit 2-year institutions decreased by 6 percent between 2010–11 ($15,500) and 2017–18 ($14,600).


Figure 2. Percentage of first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates who were awarded loan aid at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level and control of institution: Academic years 2010–11 through 2016–17

Figure 2. Percentage of first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates who were awarded loan aid at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level and control of institution: Academic years 2010–11 through 2016–17


NOTE: Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Includes only loans made directly to students; does not include Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) or other loans made directly to parents.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2011–12 through Winter 2017–18, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 331.20 and Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 331.20.


Some 46 percent of first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students were awarded loan aid in 2016–17, a 4 percentage point decrease from 2010–11 (50 percent).2 At public 4-year institutions, the percentage of undergraduates who were awarded loans decreased by 4 percentage points, from 51 percent in 2010–11 to 47 percent in 2016–17. Likewise, at private nonprofit 4-year institutions, the percentage of undergraduates who were awarded loans decreased by 5 percentage points, from 64 percent in 2010–11 to 59 percent in 2016–17. Among 4-year institutions, the largest decrease in the percentage of students who were awarded loans was at private for-profit institutions (11 percentage points), from 83 percent in 2010–11 to 72 percent in 2016–17.

Among public 2-year institutions, the percentage of students who were awarded loans was 4 percentage points lower in 2016–17 (21 percent) than in 2010–11 (25 percent). In contrast, the percentage of undergraduates who were awarded loans at private nonprofit 2-year institutions was 23 percentage points higher in 2016–17 (87 percent) than in 2010–11 (64 percent). At private for-profit 2-year institutions, however, the percentage of undergraduates who were awarded loans was 7 percentage points lower in 2016–17 (75 percent) than in 2010–11 (82 percent).


Figure 3. Average annual loan amounts for first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates who were awarded loan aid at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level and control of institution: Academic years 2010–11 through 2016–17

Figure 3. Average annual loan amounts for first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduates who were awarded loan aid at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by level and control of institution: Academic years 2010–11 through 2016–17


NOTE: Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Includes only loans made directly to students; does not include Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) or other loans made directly to parents. Constant dollars are based on the Consumer Price Index, prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to an academic-year basis.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Winter 2011–12 through Winter 2017–18, Student Financial Aid component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 331.20 and Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 331.20.


Overall, the average annual loan amount that first-time, full-time degree/certificate-seeking undergraduate students were awarded decreased by 3 percent between 2010–11 ($7,400) and 2016–17 ($7,200). At public 4-year and private nonprofit 4-year institutions, loan amounts were 2 percent higher in 2016–17 than in 2010–11 ($7,000 vs. $6,900 at public 4-year institutions and $8,400 vs. $8,200 at private nonprofit 4-year institutions). In contrast, at private for-profit 4-year institutions, the loan amount was 11 percent lower in 2016–17 ($8,500) than it was in 2010–11 ($9,600).

At public 2-year institutions, the loan amount was 12 percent lower (the largest percentage decrease) in 2016–17 ($4,800) than it was in 2010–11 ($5,400). The loan amount was 8 percent lower at private nonprofit 2-year institutions in 2016–17 ($7,200) than it was in 2010–11 ($7,800) and 11 percent lower at private for-profit 2-year institutions in 2016–17 ($7,800) than it was in 2010–11 ($8,800).

In 2016–17, the loan amount for students at private for-profit 4-year institutions ($8,500) was higher than the amount for students at all other categories of institutions (public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit 2-year institutions and public and private nonprofit 4-year institutions).


Figure 4. Percentage of undergraduate degree/certificate completers who ever received loans, by degree type and control of institution: Academic year 2015–16

Figure 4. Percentage of undergraduate degree/certificate completers who ever received loans, by degree type and control of institution: Academic year 2015–16


NOTE: Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Includes only loans made directly to students; does not include Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) or other loans made directly to parents. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16). See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 331.95.


Among undergraduate students who completed an undergraduate degree or certificate in the 2015–16 academic year, 62 percent ever received at least one loan. The percentage who ever received loans was lowest among those who attended public institutions. Among certificate completers, 45 percent of those who attended public institutions, 80 percent of those who attended private nonprofit institutions, and 88 percent of those who attended private for-profit institutions ever received loans. Among associate’s degree completers, 41 percent of those who attended public institutions, 84 percent of those who attended private nonprofit institutions, and 88 percent of those who attended private for-profit institutions ever received loans. Among bachelor’s degree completers, 66 percent of those who attended public institutions, 69 percent of those who attended private nonprofit institutions, and 86 percent of those who attended private for-profit institutions ever received loans.


Figure 5. Average cumulative loan amount for undergraduate degree/certificate completers who ever received loans, by degree type and control of institution: Academic year 2015–16

Figure 5. Average cumulative loan amount for undergraduate degree/certificate completers who ever received loans, by degree type and control of institution: Academic year 2015–16


NOTE: Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Includes only loans made directly to students; does not include Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) or other loans made directly to parents. Constant dollars are based on the Consumer Price Index, prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to an academic-year basis. Averages exclude students with no student loans.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16). See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 331.95.


The average cumulative loan amount borrowed among 2015–16 undergraduate degree/certificate completers who ever received loans was lowest among certificate completers ($16,200), followed by associate’s degree completers ($19,300) and bachelor’s degree completers ($31,200).3 Among bachelor’s degree completers, those who attended public institutions received the lowest cumulative loan amount ($28,000), followed by those who attended private nonprofit institutions ($33,200) and those who attended private for-profit institutions ($43,000). Among associate’s degree completers, those who attended public institutions received the lowest cumulative loan amount ($16,300), followed by those who attended private nonprofit institutions ($25,900) and those who attended private for-profit institutions ($27,500). Among certificate completers, however, there were no measurable differences in cumulative loan amounts between those who attended public, private nonprofit, or private for-profit institutions.


1 All dollar amounts in this indicator are expressed in constant 2017–18 dollars.
2 Includes only loans made directly to students. Does not include Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) or other loans made directly to parents.
3 Loan data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) presented in figures 4 and 5 may not be comparable to data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) presented in figures 1 through 3. NPSAS incorporates data from institutional records, the National Student Loan Data System, and student-reported information, while IPEDS relies only on institutional records. Dollar amounts are expressed in constant 2017–18 dollars.


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