Media Availability: NASFAA Comments on Declining Student Debt In College Board’s 2014 Trends Reports

Contact: Erin Timmons
Managing Editor
(202) 785-6959

New Data Signals Return To Normalcy In Higher Education Finance

November 13, 2014 – Higher education costs and the ways students finance them have largely recovered since the recession, financial aid representatives’ analysis of a new College Board report shows. 

Students and parents borrowed $8.7 billion less in education loans (in 2013 dollars) in 2013-14 than the previous school year, taking out $106 billion total, according to the College Board’s Trends in Student Aid report. That’s down from $114.7 billion (in 2013 dollars) in 2012-13 and from $122.1 billion—student borrowing’s peak—taken in 2010-11.

The most recent figure includes a decrease in institutional loan borrowing, according to data provided by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) for the College Board report. In 2013-14, undergraduate and graduate students took out approximately $710 million in institutional loans, down from $713 million the year prior.

Meanwhile, institutions have kept their commitment to higher education access through grant aid. Nearly half of institutional grant aid at public four-year institutions, and 70 percent at private institutions, was awarded to students with demonstrated financial need. 

Decreased student loan borrowing, coupled with stable institutional funding for need-based aid, signal a return to normalcy in higher education finance, said Justin Draeger, president of NASFAA. 

“Higher education data from the last few years point to recessionary anomalies, which are not the basis for sound long-term policy decisions,” Draeger said. “Cuts to federal student aid programs, such as the year-round Pell Grant, over fears of runaway costs, should be revisited in light of this new data.” 

Policymakers should also focus on student loan repayment, as the reports note that only 14 percent of borrowers in repayment enrolled in income-driven plans by the third quarter of 2013-14. Another 9 percent have defaulted on their loans. 

“Efforts to relieve struggling student loan borrowers have not gone far enough,” Draeger said. “Universal income-based repayment plans should be the default for every distressed borrower.”  

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The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents nearly 20,000 financial aid professionals at more than 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit