The United States government has a portfolio of roughly $1 trillion in student loans, many of which appear to be troubled writes Susan Dynarski in the business section of the Sunday New York Times. Dynarski’s column, “We’re frighteningly in the dark about student debt,” tackles the issue of incomplete and inaccessible data on student loan debt and default risk.
“How many borrowers are delinquent on their federal loans? How does delinquency differ by amount of debt, income and education? Which colleges leave students underwater, with low earnings and large debts they can’t pay?” With the data now available on student loans, these questions, and many others, go unanswered writes Dynarski.
Dynarski’s concern, which is shared by a number of federal agencies, think tanks, and policymakers, is that this data vacuum leaves us unable to quantify the risks student debt places on borrowers and the economy while limiting “our ability to help borrowers before they spiral into default.”
Susan Dynarski is a professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and a professor of education at the University of Michigan's School of Education. She is co-founder and co-director of the Ford School’s Education Policy Initiative, which engages in applied, policy-relevant research designed to improve overall educational achievement and outcomes.