Cumulative Debt of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients by Sector over Time

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The percentage of bachelor’s degree recipients graduating with $40,000 or more of student loan debt (in 2012 dollars) increased from 2% in 2003-04 to 8% in 2007-08 and to 18% in 2011-12.

Figure 2014_14A: Cumulative Debt of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients in 2012 Dollars by Sector, 2003-04, 2007-08, and 2011-12

Figure 14A represents Cumulative Debt of Bachelor’s Degree Recipients in 2012 Dollars by Sector, 2003-04, 2007-08, and 2011-12.  For a corresponding Section 508-compliant data table, see http://trends.collegeboard.org/student-aid.

Notes & Sources 

NOTE: Includes both federal and nonfederal borrowing.

SOURCES: NCES, National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, 2004, 2008, and 2012.

  • Almost half of the 2011-12 bachelor’s degree recipients from for-profit institutions had borrowed $40,000 or more, but only 12% of those from public institutions had this much debt.
  • Only 12% of 2011-12 bachelor’s degree recipients from for-profit colleges graduated without any debt, but 25% of those from private nonprofit and 34% of those from public four-year colleges and universities graduated without any debt.
  • The proportion of all bachelor’s degrees that were awarded by the for-profit sector increased from 3% in 2003-04 to 8% in 2011-12.