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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

Student loan debt is changing – what’s your experience?

Marketplace Weekend Staff Feb 23, 2018
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About 60 percent of those who went to college had to take out student loans to pay for it. 
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Student loan debt affects more than 44 million Americans, who hold about $1.4 trillion in debt.

Marketplace Weekend spoke to Adam Looney, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and author of the group’s latest report on student loan repayment. Here are the three big takeaways:

1. Traditionally, people with large amounts of student debt have had an easier time paying those loans back.  These borrowers were typically taking on debt to pursue degrees at high-quality, non-profit schools. Often, large loans went to people pursuing graduate degrees, whose future incomes would be able to support them as they repaid their loans. 

2. For the first time, even these large-balance borrowers are falling behind. They aren’t defaulting, but not reducing their debt, either.

3. That’s because large-balance borrowers themselves are changing. Recently, this group has been using loans to attend more for-profit schools. They are less likely to get advanced degrees than they once were, and are more often parents or late-in-life students with other significant financial obligations. 

Does any of this sound like you? We want to hear your stories about student loans, repaying this debt and what it all means for how you live your financial life. 

Get in touch with us using the box below and one of the Marketplace Weekend team will be in touch.

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