The average amount of student debt that 2019 bachelor’s degree graduates took on was slightly down from the previous year. The percentage of those students who borrowed also decreased.
This slight decrease and recent flattening of the upward trajectory of student debt measurements is welcome news, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
But other experts don’t quite agree. Jason Delisle, a resident fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, said there could be other factors at play.
“We are seeing more and more evidence that there are scenarios where students can be harmed because they’re reluctant to take on debt,” Delisle said. If students drop out because they are afraid to take on debt, or work so much that their academics suffer, it’s harmful, he said. “I would caution people from measuring access and success based solely on student debt.”
The report also doesn’t include Parent PLUS loans, federal loans that parents can take out to pay for their children’s education. The data set used in the report doesn’t include those data, Cochrane said.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth in parent loans,” Delisle said, likely because they are not limited. Federal loans for students are limited, and that limit hasn’t increased since 2008, which could be why numbers have been flat, he said.