Student Debt

For Americans of all socio-economic backgrounds, borrowing has become a primary way to pay for the skyrocketing cost of higher education. In the early 1990s, less than half of graduates left college with loans to repay; now, by the time they graduate, nearly two-thirds of students at four-year colleges and universities have student loan debt. And the amount of outstanding loans has increased sharply, even after accounting for inflation.

The Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access and Success (The Institute) seeks to increase public understanding of these trends and the implications for families, society and the national economy.

Working with experts, the project conducts nonpartisan research and advocates for practical policy options to reduce debt. In 2007, Congress passed and the president signed bipartisan legislation that improved repayment options for student borrowers, a program modeled on the Institute's research. Today, the Institute is working to simplify the application for student grants so more students can take advantage of this type of funding instead of loans.

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information: view the materials below, visit the Project on Student Debt Web site, or visit the The Project on Student Debt on


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