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Trends in Federal Student Loans to Undergraduates

Since I was at the College Board Midwestern Regional Forum today doing a presentation, I thought I'd show some of their data in a visualization.  It's one I've been working on for a while, because it's trickier than it looks.

This shows loan volume for undergraduates borrowing Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, and PLUS Loans.  In case you're not familiar with the parlance, you can read about it here.

Up until 2010-2011, colleges and universities could particpate in either The Direct Loan Program (FDSLP on these charts) or Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) which was administered through financial institutions.

I think the trends are interesting, but you decide: I recommend when looking at volume you use constant (inflation-adjusted) dollars to see the trends unless you really want to see the growth in nominal dollars.

In order to stack the bars to show total volume, I had to do this on two charts, as it doesn't make sense to stack two averages for different types of programs.  Note that when you choose "Number of Borrrowers" and "Number of Loans" the numbers are not the same because some students do either Unsubsidized or Subsidized or both; a student is counted only once.  And the bottom chart only shows the average per type of loan; it's possible a student/family could take out all three types of loans, so it does not show student indebtedness.  That's a viz for another day.


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