Cumulative Debt: Attainment by Debt Level in 2009

Online Only!

Only 2% of students who first enrolled at a postsecondary institution in 2003-04 had borrowed more than $50,000 by 2009. Over 40% did not borrow and another 25% borrowed $10,000 or less.

Figure 2012_11A: Educational Attainment by 2009 of Students First Enrolling in 2003-04, by Total Amount Borrowed (and Overall Percentage of Students in Debt Category)

Figure 2012_11A represents Cumulative Debt: Attainment by Debt Level in 2009. For a corresponding Section 508-compliant data table, see

Notes & Sources 

NOTE: Percentages in the parentheses on the vertical axis correspond to percentage of all students with specified level of debt.

SOURCES: Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS), 2009; calculations by the authors.

  • Among students who either did not borrow or borrowed $10,000 or less, 43% had left college with no credential by 2009, while only 5% of those with more than $75,000 in debt were in this situation.
  • Eighty-five percent of those with debt higher than $75,000 and 65% of those with debt between $50,000 and $75,000 had earned bachelor's degrees by 2009.