The cost of getting a bachelor’s degree remains on the rise, and the average debt for undergraduates is $28,400, up 2 percent from last year, according to the TICAS report. While the job market for college graduates is improving, loan defaults continue to increase, notes Lauren Asher, the institute’s president.
However, as Dynarski points out, students with the highest debt loads may not be the ones to worry about because they typically enter more lucrative career fields. “The people with the largest debts are the ones who went to professional school. They’ve got a BA already. Typically, the default rate for that group of students is about 3 percent,” Dynarski said. Students with just a bachelor’s degree default at 16 percent; and the rate is even higher for students who drop out prior to graduating.
Susan Dynarski is a professor of public policy, education, and economics at the University of Michigan. She holds appointments at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, School of Education, Department of Economics, and Institute for Social Research.