Two-Year Default Rates by Sector and Completion Status

Among federal student loan borrowers who entered repayment in 2011-12, 24% of those who left school without a degree or certificate defaulted on their loans within two years, compared to 9% of those who completed their degree or certificate programs.

Figure 2016_12A: Two-Year Federal Student Loan Default Rate Among Borrowers Entering Repayment in 2011-12, by Sector and Completion Status

 Two-Year Federal Student Loan Default Rate Among Borrowers Entering Repayment in 2011-12, by Sector and Degree Completion Status

Notes & Sources 

Notes: Sector is based on the school in which students were enrolled at the time their first federal student loan was issued. Perkins and Parent PLUS loans are not included. Default rates are based on defaults occurring within five calendar years from the date of entering repayment. They do not correspond exactly to official two-year cohort default rates, which are based on defaults before the end of the fiscal year following the year in which the borrower enters repayment.

Sources: Adam Looney and Constantine Yannelis (2015), “A Crisis in Student Loans? How Changes in the Characteristics of Borrowers and in the Institutions They Attended Contributed to Rising Loan Defaults,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activities.

  • Default rates for non-completers ranged from 15% among those who attended private nonprofit four-year institutions to 29% among public two-year college students.
  • Default rates for borrowers who completed a degree or certificate ranged from 5% for those who attended private nonprofit four-year institutions to 17% for those who attended public two-year colleges.