Total Federal and Nonfederal Loans over Time

Total student and parent borrowing for postsecondary education declined (in inflation-adjusted dollars) for the sixth consecutive year, to $106.5 billion in 2016-17.

Figure 4: Total Federal and Nonfederal Loans in 2016 Dollars by Type, 1996-97 to 2016-17

Figure 4 represents Total Federal and Nonfederal Loans in 2016 Dollars, 1996-97 to 2016-17. For a corresponding Section 508-compliant data table, download the Excel spreadsheet.

Notes & Sources 

NOTES: Nonfederal loans include loans to students from states and institutions in addition to private loans issued by banks, credit unions, and other lenders. Values for nonfederal loans are best estimates and are less precise than federal loan amounts.

SOURCES: See Notes and Sources for a list of sources for loans included in Figure 4.

  • In 1996-97, 64% of Stafford Loans were subsidized loans, on which the government paid the interest while students were in school. This percentage declined to 51% in 2006-07 and to 46% in 2011-12. With graduate students no longer eligible for the program beginning in 2012-13, subsidized loans fell to 33% of all Stafford Loans in 2012-13 and to 30% in 2016-17.
  • Between 2011-12 and 2016-17, total borrowing from the subsidized and unsubsidized Direct and Perkins Loan programs declined by 23%; total borrowing from the Parent PLUS Loan program increased by 7%.
  • Between 2011-12 and 2016-17, graduate student borrowing through the PLUS Loan program, which supplements unsubsidized Direct Loans for graduate students, increased by 20% from $8.0 billion to $9.6 billion.
  • Nonfederal education loans are loans students borrow from banks, credit unions, and other private lenders, including some states and postsecondary institutions. These loans, which are not part of the student aid system and typically do not involve subsidies, fell from about $24 billion (in 2016 dollars) to $9 billion between 2006-07 and 2009-10, but increased to $12 billion by 2016-17.