Societal changes drive public policy.  These shifts include an aging population; the growth of high tech and service sector jobs; evolving views on race, ethnicity, and immigration; and changes in family structure.  Pew studies these attitudes and trends and their impact through the use of original public opinion survey research, along with social, economic, and demographic data analysis.  Pew’s work includes a major study of the millennial generation and the distinct path it is forging toward adulthood, with fewer ties to traditional religious and political institutions and more use of social media to build personal networks.

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Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project

  • Possible Explanations for the Increase in Borrowing by Middle- and High-Income Students

    • October 7, 2014

    The growth in student debt among dependent college graduates has been particularly pronounced among middle- and high-income families. Explaining this distributional shift is beyond the aims of this report. However, some of the following factors might be at work: Policy changes that expanded eligibility for federal loan programs have broadened the pool of potential borrowers. […] Read More

  • Appendix B: Details on the Data Source

    • October 7, 2014

    The analysis is based on the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). NPSAS is collected every 3 to 4 years by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. NPSAS is specifically designed to measure how undergraduates and their families pay for postsecondary education. It is nationally representative of undergraduate borrowers and non-borrowers […] Read More

  • Explanations for the General Increase in Borrowing

    • October 7, 2014

    Given the growth of student debt, many analysts are investigating why students are borrowing more. An obvious and popular explanation is that college tuition inflation has increased the costs that students and their families have to pay. However, the absence of consistent historical data on tuition paid after student financial aid and tuition discounts makes […] Read More

  • Ownership of Debt by New College Graduates

    • October 7, 2014

    Another way of looking at changing patterns in student borrowing is to look at how all student debt is distributed across various groups. In the class of 1992-93, graduates from the lowest income quartile owed 40% of the class’ overall student debt. In other words, the poorest quarter of graduates owed 40% of the class’ […] Read More

  • References

    • October 7, 2014

    Akers, Beth, and Matthew M. Chingos. 2014. Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon? Washington, D.C.: Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings. Bailey, Martha J., and Susan M. Dynarski. 2011. Gains and Gaps: Changing Inequality in U.S. College Entry and Completion. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 17633. Baum, Sandy. 2013. The […] Read More