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Report

The student loan crisis: A look at the data

Adam Looney

In the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of American student-loan borrowers leaving college with high debt and low earnings. The resulting unsustainable debt burdens impose substantial costs on students and on federal taxpayers. Much of the growth in the levels of student loans has been linked to the rise of for-profit colleges and other institutions with weak educational outcomes.

This page catalogs research by Brookings Senior Fellow Adam Looney related to student loan and financial aid policy. For each paper, tabulations of the data used in each paper and necessary to replicate figures and tables are provided as .csv files. These data were tabulated from administrative data from the National Student Loan Data System and the U.S. Treasury and published with the associated papers while the authors were federal employees. A README file provides a description of the content of each file.”

A CRISIS IN STUDENT LOANS? HOW CHANGES IN IN THE CHARACTERISTICS OF BORROWERS AND IN THE INSTITUTIONS THEY ATTENDED CONTRIBUTED TO RISING LOAN DEFAULTS

In “A Crisis in Student Loans? How Changes in the Characteristics of Borrowers and the Institutions they Attend Contributed to Rising Loan Defaults,” Adam Looney of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Stanford’s Constantine Yannelis examine the rise in student loan delinquency and default, drawing on newly available U.S. Department of Education administrative data on federal student borrowing linked to earnings records derived from tax records.

MATERIALS
A crisis in student loans? How changes in the characteristics of borrowers and in the institutions they attended contributed to rising loan defaults,” Looney, A. and C. Yannelis (2015), The Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (Fall).
Download the paper | Download the press release | Read the full paper here
Table 01 First Year New Volume

This table provides tabulations of the number of borrowers, the amounts borrowed, and characteristics of first-time borrowers (borrowers who take out loans for the first time in the specified year). Sample includes undergraduate, graduate, and parent borrowers. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

.CSV Read Me
Table 02 Aggregate New Volume All

This table provides tabulations of the number of borrowers, borrowing amounts, and characteristics of all active borrowers (borrowers who have taken out new loans) by fiscal year. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Table 03 Aggregate FY Stocks First

This table provides tabulations of the stock of borrowers and stock of loans each fiscal year, and the characteristics of borrowers with outstanding loans. The sample includes all borrowers with an outsanding balance, including those who are in repayment and who have not yet entered repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015). Tabulations by type, control, selectivity are by first institution attended.

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Table 04 Aggregate FY Stocks Last

This table provides tabulations of the stock of borrowers and stock of loans each fiscal year, and the characteristics of borrowers with outstanding loans. The sample includes all borrowers with an outsanding balance, including those who are in repayment and who have not yet entered repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015). Tabulations by type, control, selectivity are by LAST institution attended.

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Table 05 Labor Market Outcomes by Borrower by Cohort

This table shows labor market outcomes for undergraduate and graduate borrowers (not parents) after they have entered into repayment by fiscal year entered repayment. A borrower is defined as entering repayment when the last loan goes into repayment. Repayment year (cohort) is defined by the year in which a borrower enters repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS matched to deidentified tax data. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015). Tabulations by type, control, selectivity are by First institution attended.

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Table 06 Labor Market Outcomes All Borrowers in Repay

This table shows labor market outcomes for all borrowers in repayment each fiscal year (regardless of which year they entered repayment). The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS matched to deidentified tax data. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015). Tabulations by type, control, selectivity are by First institution attended.

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Table 07 Flows of Borrowers

This table shows the flow of borrowers into the loan program (new borrower), out of enrollment and into repayment (entered_repayment), and out of the loan program when their loans are paid (paid_off). The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Table 08 First Institution Balances by Borrowers

This table shows borrowing and repayment outcomes by student and by institution. Cohorts are defined by the year in which the borrower last enters repayment. Institution is the FIRST institution the student borrowed to attend (and thus not necessarily where the loans were accumulated). A borrower is defined as entering repayment when the last loan goes into repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Table 09 Last Institution Balances by Borrower

This table shows borrowing and repayment outcomes by student and by institution. Cohorts are defined by the year in which the borrower last enters repayment. Institution is the last institution the student borrowed to attend (and thus not necessarily where the loans were accumulated). A borrower is defined as entering repayment when the last loan goes into repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015). This is the source for Table 5.

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Table 10 Institution Balances by Loan

This table shows borrowing and repayment outcomes for student borrowers by institution and by loan. Borrowers/balances/outcomes are based on the loans originated at each institution. Cohorts are defined by the year in which each loan enters repayment. (In contrast to other institution/umbrella sheets, this conforms roughly to how the Department of Education forms cohorts for CDR rules. However, the official 3-year CDR is defined over a 3-year fiscal year period, whereas the years defined below are defined by 365 periods subsequent to entering repayment.) A borrower can thus appear in multiple years or at multiple schools. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Table 11 First Umbrella Institution Balances by Borrower

This table shows borrowing and repayment outcomes by student and by "umbrella" institution (in which individual institutions are aggregated to their parent organization, like the UC System or EDMC). Cohorts are defined by the year in which the borrower last enters repayment. Umbrella institution is the first institution the student borrowed to attend (and thus not necessarily where the loans were accumulated). A borrower is defined as entering repayment when the last loan goes into repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Table 12 Last Umbrella Institution Balances by Borrower

This table shows borrowing and repayment outcomes by student and by "umbrella" institution (in which individual institutions are aggregated to their parent organization, like the UC System or EDMC). Cohorts are defined by the year in which the borrower last enters repayment. Umbrella institution is the LAST institution the student borrowed to attend (and thus not necessarily where the loans were accumulated). A borrower is defined as entering repayment when the last loan goes into repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Table 13 Umbrella Institution Balances by Loan

This table shows borrowing and repayment outcomes for student borrowers by parent/umbrella institution and by loan. Borrowers/balances/outcomes are based on the loans originated at each institution. Cohorts are defined by the year in which each loan enters repayment. (In contrast to other institution/umbrella sheets, this conforms roughly to how the Department of Education forms cohorts for CDR rules. However, the official 3-year CDR is defined over a 3-year fiscal year period, whereas the years defined below are defined by 365 periods subsequent to entering repayment.) A borrower can thus appear in multiple years or at multiple schools. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Table 14 Repay Outcomes by Borrower

This table provides tabulations of the student loan outcomes and characteristics of borrowers who enter repayment in each specified fiscal year. A borrower is defined as entering repayment when the last loan goes into repayment. (Thus each borrower appears only once in the sample. In contrast, official cohort default rate measures may include borrowers multiple times if their loans enter repayment in multiple years or from more than one school). Sample includes only undergraduate or graduate borrowers (not parents). The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015). Tabulations by type, control, selectivity are by First institution attended.

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Table 15 Parent Repay Outcomes

This table shows loan repayment outcomes for PARENT PLUS borrowers by the fiscal year when the LAST LOAN goes into repayment. (Because parent loans enter repayment upon disbursement but may be deferred while the student is in school, the gap between when the loan enters repayment and when payments begin may be large. This classification roughly corresponds to when the last loan is disbursed and is thus closer to when in-school deferment ends). The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015). Tabulations by type, control, selectivity are by LAST institution attended.

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Table 16 Repay Outcomes Parent by Loan

This table provides tabulations of parent plus loan outcomes that enter repayment in each specified fiscal year. The unit of analysis underlying the tabulations is the person-institution-fiscal year (as in official cohort default rates). Note parent loans enter repayment in the year they are disbursed. Borrowers may appear at multiple schools or in multiple years depending on where they borrowed and when loans entered repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Table 17 Repay Outcomes Undergrad by Loan

This table provides tabulations of undergraduate loan outcomes that enter repayment in each specified fiscal year. The unit of analysis underlying the tabulations is the person-institution-fiscal year (as in official cohort default rates). Borrowers may appear at multiple schools or in multiple years depending on where they borrowed and when loans entered repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Table 18 Repay Outcomes Graduate by Loan

This table provides tabulations of graduate loan outcomes that enter repayment in each specified fiscal year. The unit of analysis underlying the tabulations is the person-institution-fiscal year (as in official cohort default rates). Borrowers may appear at multiple schools or in multiple years depending on where they borrowed and when loans entered repayment. The source if a 4% sample of the NSLDS. Further details on variable construction are given in the appendix of Looney and Yannelis (2015).

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Tables included in the paper .XLSX

IS HIGH STUDENT LOAN DEBT ALWAYS A PROBLEM?

Those with more debt often took out their loans to stay in school longer, pursue higher-level degrees, and attend more selective — and more costly — schools. But those successful students are more likely to land high-paying jobs. Due to the relationship between borrowing and educational attainment, the vast majority of borrowers with high debt are in a better position to pay it off, compared with other borrowers.

MATERIALS
Looney, A., & Yannelis, C. (2016). Is High Student Loan Debt Always a Problem? (Policy Brief July 2016). Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
Read the full brief here
Tables and Figures in Excel .XLSX

MEASURING LOAN OUTCOMES AT POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTIONS

Low- and middle-income college borrowers often struggle with economic opportunity and loan burdens after leaving school. However, some institutions, including some non-selective schools, do a good job of providing economic mobility to low-income students. Looney and Yannelis propose an institutional accountability system to align the incentives of institutions with their student loan borrowers and taxpayers. Under this risk-sharing proposal, institutions with poor loan performance reimburse the federal loan program for a fraction of unrepaid loan dollars.

MATERIALS

Measuring loan outcomes at postsecondary institutions
Chou, T., Looney, A., & Watson, T. (2017). Measuring Loan Outcomes at Postsecondary Institutions: Cohort Repayment Rates as an Indicator of Student Success and Institutional Accountability (No. w23118). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Read the full paper here

A Risk Sharing Proposal for Student Loans
Chou, T., Looney, A., & Watson, T. (2017). A Risk-Sharing Proposal for Student Loans (Policy Proposal 2017-04). The Hamilton Project.
Read the full paper here

Sources of Default and Delinquency among Student Loan Borrowers
Looney, A. (2016, November 28). Addressing the Risks of Pursuing Post-Secondary Education. Speech presented in Federal Reserve Board, Washington DC.
Read the full speech here || View the full presentation here
These data provide tabulations of the population of undergraduate, graduate, and parent borrowers with loans entering repayment in 2009 by the institution of origination and describe the loan volumes and repayment rates of those loans. The volumes and repayment rates are aggregated at the institution level. These files were produced by FSA and used in Chou, Looney, Watson (2017a), Chou, Looney, and Watson (2017b), and Looney (2016).
Loan Entry Exit .XLSX
01 Overall .XLSX Read Me
02 Undergraduate .XLSX Read Me
03 Graduate .XLSX Read Me
04 PLUS only .XLSX Read Me
Graduate, Undergraduate, and PLUS .XLSX Read Me
Tables and Figures in Excel .XLSX

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