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Title:  Federal Student Loan Debt Burden of Noncompleters
Description: Federal Student Loan Debt Burden of Noncompleters, a Statistics in Brief, focuses on the median federal student debt burden accrued by students who do not complete a postsecondary credential within 6 years of enrolling. It is based on data from the two most recent longitudinal studies of beginning postsecondary students conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics: students who first enrolled in 1995-96 (as of 2001) and those who first enrolled in 2003-04 (as of 2009).

Highlights include:

• In 2009, the percentage of noncompleters after 6 years ranged from 19 percent of students in private nonprofit 4-year institutions to 46 percent in public 2-year colleges or for-profit institutions. An increase in noncompletion between 2001 and 2009 was observed only for students in for-profit institutions (35 percent to 46 percent).

• In 2009, borrowing rates from federal student loan programs ranged from 25 percent of students in public 2-year colleges to 86 percent in for-profit institutions; comparable rates for students in 4-year public and 4-year private nonprofit institutions were 54 percent and 66 percent, respectively. Note: these rates are for noncompleters.

• In 2009, the cumulative amount borrowed per credit earned was highest for noncompleters in for-profit institutions ($350 per credit, compared with $80 to $190 per credit in the other three sectors).

• In 2009, the median cumulative federal student debt for all noncompleters amounted to 35 percent of their annual income; debt burden was highest for students in 4-year private nonprofit institutions (median debt equaled 51 percent of borrowers’ annual income). Debt burden among noncompleters who started in for-profit institutions increased from 20 percent to 43 percent of annual income between 2001 and 2009.
Online Availability:
Cover Date: April 2013
Web Release: April 9, 2013
Publication #: NCES 2013155
Center/Program: NCES
Type of Product: Statistics in Brief
Survey/Program Areas: Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS)
Cost of Higher Education
Debt Burden
Higher Education
Postsecondary Education
Questions: For questions about the content of this Statistics in Brief, please contact:
Aurora M. D'Amico.