Federal Student Loan Default Rates by Sector over Time

Student loan default rates are consistently two to three times as high for borrowers who attend for-profit and public two-year institutions as for those who attend private nonprofit and public four-year institutions.

Figure 2015_12: Federal Student Loan Default Rates After Two Calendar Years, Borrowers Entering Repayment, 1995-96 to 2011-12

Figure 12 represents Federal Student Loan Default Rates After Two Calendar Years, Borrowers Entering Repayment, 1995-96 to 2011-12. For a corresponding Section 508-compliant data table, see http://trends.collegeboard.org/student-aid.

Notes & Sources 

NOTES: Default rates are based on defaults occurring within two calendar years of the date of entering repayment and 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. Based on sector in which students were enrolled at the time the first federal student loan was issued. Does not include Perkins or Parent PLUS Loan balances.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Treasury calculations based on sample data from the National Student Loan Data System.

  • Two-year default rates were lower in all sectors for borrowers entering repayment in 2011-12 than for those entering repayment the preceding year, but remained higher than they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s.